GREENSBORO, N.C. — A former adviser to John Edwards recounted Wednesday how the former presidential candidate's now-deceased wife indignantly confronted her husband, baring her chest in front of staff members the day after a tabloid reported that he was cheating on her.
During a session at Edwards' corruption trial that saw his 30-year-old daughter flee the courtroom in tears, Christina Reynolds described how a very upset Elizabeth Edwards stormed away from her husband in October 2007, then collapsed in a ball on the pavement outside a private airplane hangar. Reynolds and another woman guided the anguished wife into a nearby ladies room to compose herself, but she soon returned to the private hangar to again confront her husband.
In front of several staff members, the woman who had endured grueling treatments for breast cancer took off her shirt and bra, exposing her chest.
Edwards is accused of illegally using campaign donations to keep his mistress hidden, but Lowell's questions apparently were intended to bolster the defense's argument that Edwards used the money to keep the secret from his wife, not his campaign.
If convicted, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison.
If Edwards didn't have a strong reaction to his wife's meltdown, he had a much stronger reaction when another of his aides raised questions about his secret relationship with Hunter during Edwards' presidential campaign.
The confrontation with Josh Brumberger took place in a private room at Chicago's O'Hare Airport as Edwards and others were about to take off for a trip to China.
Brumberger said it was a "fairly emotional, heated, somewhat graphic conversation," and Brumberger looked sheepishly at Judge Catherine Eagles and the prosecutor before quoting Edwards.
"What I remember ... 'If he thought I was f***ing her, why didn't he come to me like a man and tell me to stop f***ing her," Brumberger recalled.
"He was really upset. He was red," Brumberger said.
When asked if he was fired, Brumberger replied, "That's the way I understood it. One thing was definitely clear. I was not going to China."
Brumberger's comment drew laughter from the court, which he was able to do repeatedly during the day in a change from the first eight days of the trial that has consisted of often emotional and angry testimony.
Brumberger was 27 when he was part of Edwards staff during the 2007-08 presidential campaign and recalled first meeting Edwards' girlfriend Rielle Hunter when she approached Edwards in the bar of a New York City hotel.
She soon appeared as part of the campaign staff as a videographer, and Brumberger said he looked up on the internet.
"There was a lot of sex, drugs, rock and roll and astrology," Brumberger testified. He said he told Edwards that "Miss Hunter looked a little nutty."
Soon, Hunter was making demands to be allowed at most of Edwards' events and to fly with Edwards on private jets. He noted that Edwards was carrying or wheeling her luggage.