A federal judge overseeing the criminal trial of former Sen. John Edwards has scheduled a hearing for next Monday to determine if the defense team will be given access to a trove of detailed financial information from key prosecution witness Andrew Young, the former aide to Edwards who authored a tell-all book about the scandal.
Edwards’ efforts to obtain the records were first revealed in court documents filed late Wednesday.
David Harris, an accountant for Young and wife, Cheri, filed a motion to quash a subpoena served on him earlier this month.
“Compliance with the [s]ubpoena is unreasonable and oppressive,” Harris’ motion states, because the Youngs have not given consent to produce the materials, and there is no court order requiring the accounting firm to comply.
The subpoena seeks tax returns and details on the Youngs’ income and assets dating back to 2006. The defense team is also asking for any records of money or gifts the couple may have received from Fred Baron and Bunny Mellon, the two donors who allegedly funneled more than $900,000 into the cover-up of Edwards’ affair.
In pre-trial motions over the past several months, Edwards’ defense team has strongly signaled its intent to aggressively attack Young as a biased witness with a profit motive and a vendetta against his former boss. They have noted in court filings that the Youngs controlled the money and used some of it to help build their “dream home” on a wooded hilltop overlooking Chapel Hill.
Young’s book, “The Politician,” was a hot-seller in 2010 – and the Youngs have sold the movie rights to their story to Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Edwards’ subpoena seeks all financial documents related to the book and movie deals.
In the book – and in subsequent interviews with ABC News – Young has acknowledged that he and his wife spent some of the money on themselves, but claimed it was all done in furtherance of the cover-up – with the aim of keeping Edwards’ political future viable.
“It all went into a mixed pot,” Young told ABC in January 2010. “A lot of the money went into the house, a lot of it went into the care and feeding of Rielle. I mean, having a baby is very expensive without health insurance.”
As the Iowa caucuses approached, Young eventually went so far as to falsely claim paternity of Hunter’s child. Then Young, his wife and three children secreted away with Hunter on a cross-country odyssey, flying on private jets and staying in luxurious homes and hotels – all paid for, Young says, with money from Baron and Mellon. The indictment alleges that, in all, more than $900,000 was spent to keep Edwards’ pregnant mistress under wraps.
“There was money being spent all over the place,” Young says. ”But unequivocally, everything that I did, in terms of procuring money, spending money or where monies went, was done at the direction of Fred Baron and John Edwards. And for anybody to say that I misdirected funds is ridiculous.”
Edwards, 58, has pleaded not guilty to all charges in a six-count federal indictment for allegedly soliciting illegal contributions from Baron and Mellon to help hide Hunter during the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary campaign. Jury selection in the highly-anticipated trial got under way this morning in Greensboro, N.C.
US District Court Judge Catherine Eagles addressed nearly 200 potential jurors today reminding 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.”
Edwards – who built a successful and lucrative career trying cases in front of North Carolina juries – took care to smile and make eye contact with the jurors as the judge introduced him as the defendant in the case. Edwards’ eldest daughter, Cate, and his parents, Wallace and Bobbie, sat quietly among the spectators.
The trial is scheduled to begin on April 23 and could last six weeks or more. Andrew Young is expected to be the first witness called by the prosecution.
The Associated Press and WTVD reporter Tamara Gibbs contributed to this report.