Former Aide Rips John Edwards' Confession As 'Empty Words'

Edwards is in Haiti after admitting he fathered child with mistress.

January 21, 2010, 1:56 PM

Jan. 21, 2010 — -- A former aide to John Edwards dismissed his former boss' confession of having fathered a baby with his mistress two years ago as "empty words" that are little more than a public relations campaign.

Andrew Young lashed out at the former presidential candidate in an exclusive interview with ABC News hours after Edwards released a statement admitting he was the father of mistress Rielle Hunter's nearly 2-year-old toddler.

"I think those were words, empty words," Young told ABC News. "If that is what he wanted to say, he should have said it two years ago. And there has been plenty of time...Now I think it's just a PR campaign."

Edwards' confession comes two weeks before a book by Young detailing his account of the Edwards sex scandal will be released. "The Politician" will hit store shelves Jan. 30.

Family friend and lawyer Harrison Hickman told ABC News that Edwards made his announcement today because the arrangements for child support were just finalized in the last few days.

In an earlier interview with ABC News that will air Friday, Jan. 29, Young also claims that it was Edwards who proposed an elaborate cover-up in a failed attempt to hide the fact that he fathered a baby girl with Hunter.

Edwards finally confessed today that he is the father of Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn. But his statement did not stop fresh revelations from emerging about his attempts to keep his paternity secret.

Young initially tried to protect his boss' reputation and political career by publicly stating that he was the father of Hunter's infant, a story that Hunter did not dispute.

"The senator made the full pitch," Young told ABC News' "20/20." "Not just for me. I mean he didn't just have to convince me that I was going to take paternity. He also had to convince Rielle that she would publicly claim that I had been the father."

Young said Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and Democratic presidential contender in 2008, asked him to steal one of his daughter's soiled diapers as part of a DNA strategy.

Tune in to ABC News' "20/20" and "Nightline" Friday, Jan. 29 to see Andrew Young's exclusive groundbreaking interview. Then tune in to "Good Morning America" on the following Monday, Feb. 1, when Young will appear for his first live interview.

"Get a doctor to fake the DNA results," Young said Edwards told him. "And he asked me ... to steal a diaper from the baby so he could secretly do a DNA test to find out if this [was] indeed his child."

Young said he ignored the request.

Edwards released a statement today finally admitting that he is the father of Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn.

"I am Quinn's father," Edwards said in the bombshell statement.

"I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves."

Edwards said it was "wrong" that he denied he was the girl's father.

John Edwards Goes to Haiti With Sean Penn

"I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace," Edwards' statement said, referring to the little girl. "It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me."

"To all those I have disappointed and hurt, these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry," he said.

Landing in Haiti to work on earthquake relief today with actor Sean Penn, Edwards told reporters, "I've said what I have to say for now and I'm here to help people."

Click here to see a timeline of major events in scandal involving John Edwards.

"When the earthquake hit and I saw these images on television that you and people like you brought back to America, it was just heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking," he told Reuters news agency.

Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, whose own book caused a stir last year, told the Associated Press today "the whole family is relieved" by her husband's admission of his paternity.

She did not answer questions about their marital status and would not say where they will go in the future.

"If somebody has a crystal ball, they can let me know," said Edwards, who is still fighting breast cancer. "My marriage shouldn't be on anybody's radar screen except mine."

Edwards' lawyer Harrison Hickman told NBC today that Edwards has been visiting Quinn and paying child support for about a year. Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, learned last summer that Quinn was her husband's child.

In August 2008 Edwards admitted to the affair with Hunter but denied fathering the child in an exclusive "Nightline" interview with Bob Woodruff (WATCH THE INTERVIEW). Edwards said he repeatedly lied about the extramarital affair with Hunter, a 42-year old campaign employee, but strenuously denied he was involved in paying the woman hush money or fathering her newborn child.

Edwards categorically declared it was "not possible" that the baby was his.

John Edwards Denied Paternity

"I know that it's not possible that this child could be mine because of the timing of events, so I know it's not possible," Edwards said. "[I'm] happy to take a paternity test, and would love to see it happen."

"Two years ago, I made a very serious mistake, a mistake that I am responsible for and no one else," Edwards said in the interview. "In 2006, I told Elizabeth about the mistake, asked her for her forgiveness, asked God for his forgiveness. And we have kept this within our family since that time."

Edwards, 56, said he told his entire family about the affair after it ended in 2006, and that his wife, Elizabeth, who has incurable breast cancer, was "furious" but that their marriage would survive. The couple have three children, Cate, 27; Emma, 11; and Jack, 9.

Months after the confession, Elizabeth Edwards wrote a book, "Resilience," in which she discussed her husband's affair. While promoting the book on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in May, she said no paternity test had yet taken place.

But in the summer of 2009, the National Enquirer published reports that Edwards had taken a paternity test, and the results confirmed he was the father.

Hunter gave birth to Frances Quinn in February 2008, a month after Edwards ended his bid for the presidency. She listed no name for the father on the birth certificate, which created further speculation about who it might be.

Young originally claimed he was the father of Hunter's daughter, but Young -- who has two children with his wife, Cheri -- has since retracted that story and was expected to reveal more about the affair in the exclusive "20/20" interview Friday Jan. 29.

John Edwards Denied Knowing of Financial Support for Rielle Hunter

Edwards told ABC News in 2008 that he'd met secretly with Hunter in a California hotel room at her request because "she was having some trouble, she just wanted to talk."

"I wanted her not to tell the public what had happened," he said at another point. "Very simple. That's the reason I went."

Edwards contacted ABC News about the August 2008 interview and requested that he be interviewed about the allegations. He agreed before the interview to place no limitations on the questions he would be asked, but he limited the amount of time he would be questioned. He declined to clarify exactly when the relationship began or ended but said it was over before he announced his campaign for the presidency Dec. 28, 2006.

"I think my family is entitled to every detail," Edwards said then. "They've been told every detail. … I think beyond the basics … I think that's where it stops in terms of the public because I think everything else is within my family and those privacy boundaries ought to be respected."

A series of dramatic allegations revolving around the affair was reported by the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer. The most serious of those allegations was that Hunter had been receiving hush money through the Edwards campaign in order to keep her quiet.

In the 2008 interview, Edwards denied knowing anything about any support being provided to Hunter or to Young, who claimed the child.

If any such support was being provided, Edwards insisted, "I had nothing to do with any money being paid, and no knowledge of any money being paid, and if something was paid, it wasn't being paid on my behalf."

Edwards' 2008 national finance chairman Fred Baron said then that he had provided "assistance" to Hunter and others without Edwards' knowledge.

In a statement emailed to ABC News, Baron said that he "decided independently to help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to move forward on their own."  

"I did this of my own volition without the instruction or suggestion of anyone, and made a conscious decision not to tell anyone, including John Edwards, that assistance was provided.  The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.  This is now and shall always remain a private matter between these individuals and me."

John Edwards and National Enquirer

Edwards said he could not be the father based on the timing of the baby's birth on Feb. 27, 2008.

A grainy photo that appears to show Edwards holding a child was published in 2008 in the National Enquirer, which claimed that the baby was Rielle Hunter's child Frances Quinn.

Edwards said he couldn't make "sense" of the photo.

"I don't know if that picture is me," Edwards said in the ABC News interview. "It could well be. It looks like me. I don't know who that baby is. I have no idea what that picture is."

Pressed to clarify whether the child in the picture was Hunter's child, Edwards suggested that the tabloid may have digitally altered the picture, but also noted the frequency with which politicians hold babies.

"Do you know how many pictures have been taken of me holding children in the last three years? I mean it happens all the time."

Edwards blamed the affair on the adulation surrounding his remarkable rise into presidential politics.

"I went from being a senator, a young senator to being considered for vice president, running for president, being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure. All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You're invincible. And there will be no consequences."