Cate Edwards, the oldest daughter of John Edwards and his late wife, Elizabeth, is among the witnesses who may be called to testify in the criminal trial that could send her father to prison for up to 30 years. Her name appeared among a list of dozens of potential witnesses who could be called by the defense team.
A newly married graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, Cate Edwards recently put her own fledgling legal career on hold to launch an educational foundation in her mother’s name.
She accompanied her father to court last June on the day federal prosecutors announced a six-count indictment against the former Democratic presidential candidate, who’s accused of accepting nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions that were allegedly used to cover up his extra-marital affair with Rielle Hunter.
Cate Edwards has not commented publicly about the criminal case, and there’s no indication that she was aware of the efforts to hide her father’s affair.
Jury selection got under way this week for the highly anticipated trial, which is set to begin April 23, and is expected to last at least six weeks. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his defense team has assailed the government’s case as a “crazy” and “radical” interpretation of campaign finance laws.
The defense team’s witness list, which was filed late Thursday, also includes, in addition to Cate Edwards, Rielle Hunter, and a host of former political staff members, some of whom have gone on to work in the Obama administration.
The prosecution’s witness list is headlined by Andrew Young, a former aide to Edwards who handled the money for the alleged cover-up, and once falsely claimed paternity of the daughter Edwards fathered with Hunter. Young, who wrote a book about the scandal and struck a deal with prosecutors for his testimony, is expected to be the key witness for the government.
That Rielle Hunter’s name appears on the witness list for both prosecution and defense teams indicates that each side believes her testimony could help. She appeared before a grand jury in 2009 and was granted limited immunity from prosecution. But in interviews Hunter did in 2010 with Oprah Winfrey and GQ Magazine, she contradicted many aspects of Young’s version of events.
The judge overseeing the case has ruled that all the witnesses will be sequestered, with the exception of Edwards’ immediate family. So Cate Edwards will be free to observe the trial.
She was among the spectators in the courtroom this week as nearly 200 potential jurors filled out questionnaires in federal court in Greensboro, N.C. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, after introducing the well-known defendant to the pool of jurors, reminded them that this case is “not about whether Mr. Edwards was a good husband or politician. It’s about whether he violated campaign finance laws.”
If John Edwards is convicted and sentenced to prison, Cate Edwards could become the legal guardian of her two younger siblings – Emma Claire,13, and Jack, 11 – according to the terms of Elizabeth Edwards’ will. She died in December 2010.