GREENSBORO, S.C. May 7, 2012— -- John Edwards tried to hide his affair with Rielle Hunter with outright denials but also with sly comments meant to convince his staff that he was not sleeping with the woman while seeking the White House.
Edwards' lawyers, defending him from charges he broke federal campaign finance laws by using donations to hide his mistress, haven't contested the fact that he lied. But so many people have testified that he misled them that the lawyers have indicated they will object if the government calls more political staffers to testify about his lies.
Early in his secret romance with Hunter in 2006, Edwards dispatched scheduler Matthew Nelson to pick up Hunter and bring her to Edwards' home under the pretext that he was going to interview her for a job.
Although Edwards and Hunter had been intimate for a while at this point, the presidential hopeful feigned ignorance of who Hunter was, asking Nelson in a "whispered tone... who the woman is in the neighboring room," Nelson told the court last week.
John Davis was an Edwards aide who was let in on his boss' secret on Feb. 5, 2007 when he spotted Hunter in a hotel after she had been dismissed as Edwards' videographer. A short time later Hunter came to Davis' room to tell him that "she and John Edwards were very much in love."
A couple days after that, Edwards also confided in Davis. He said that Hunter had come to see him because she was going on Inside Edition or Access Hollywood to talk about her work on the campaign.
"He told me she was crazy and to make sure she didn't contact him," Davis testified. Edwards added without being asked that he was not having an affair with Hunter.
Edwards remained adamant in his denials even after the National Enquirer reported that Hunter had become pregnant.
In a conversation with his campaign's national spokesman Mark Kornblau, Edwards tried to shift the blame for Hunter's pregnancy to yet another aide, Andrew Young.
"He told me it was not physically possible that he was the father," Kornblau testified. He added, "I have a vague recollection of him saying, 'Do you think it could be Andrew's child?'"
At times Edwards lies were blatant, denying outright that he was having an affair with Hunter. He was caught in a couple of whoppers when dealing with one of his main benefactors, according to court testimony.
After Edwards' presidential run was clearly over, he talked about starting a foundation to fight poverty and would seek financial help from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, several former aides testified.
Mellon was 97 at the time and enamored of Edwards. She had already given him $725,000 for his hush fund and $6 million to his political action committee and a non-profit organization. Young asked Mellon for $40 million to $50 million for the foundation and suggested she could mortgage her home to get the money.
When Mellon made it clear that she was hurt by the financial demands, Edwards called her to apologize. According to Mellon's confidante Bryan Huffman, Edwards told the woman he was unaware of any plans for a foundation or Young's request for money.
Huffman also told the court, however, that Edwards had called him and offered Huffman a seat on the foundation's board of directors.
When Mellon's lawyer Alex Forger discovered all the checks that were funnelled to Edwards through Huffman, the lawyer confronted Edwards and asked him if he knew Huffman. Edwards said, no, never heard of him.
Edwards later conceded to Forger the money was meant for his personal use.