Ex-Edwards aide: I was "scared to death"

(CBS News) John Edwards' lawyers expect to get their first chance in court on Wednesday to challenge his chief accuser, Andrew Young. Young has been telling a vivid story about the former Democratic presidential candidate and his mistress.

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The prosecution spent the first two days of testimony questioning Young in a Greensboro, N.C., courtroom. Prosecutors believe the one-time campaign staffer could be the key to proving that Edwards accepted nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions from wealthy donors and used them to hide his affair.

In a packed courtroom, Young, the prosecution's star witness, testified about Edwards' affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter, saying Edwards called his mistress a "crazy slut" when he found out she was pregnant.

Young also said he and his wife were "scared to death" as they received checks as large as $150,000 marked as payment for furniture, when the money was being used to hide Edwards' affair with Hunter.

According to Young, Edwards came up with a plan to cover up the affair using nearly $1 million by wealthy donors, including reclusive heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

The crux of the case here: did the donations constitute gifts, as Edwards' defense team claims, or did they amount to contributions to his campaign?

CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford discussed the Edwards case on "CBS This Morning." Watch his analysis in the video below.


Melanie Sloan, of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said, "People who are having affairs generally try and hide them. That's what Mr. Edwards did and that makes him a lousy person, but that doesn't make him a criminal."

Even Young once referred to the donations as gifts. In his tell-all book about Edwards and the affair, "The Politician," he said the funds "...were gifts, entirely proper, and not subject to campaign finance laws."

In opening arguments, Edwards' attorneys told the jury that Edwards had no knowledge of the donations and alleged Young and his wife used most of that money to pay for a new home.

Edwards' defense lawyers also acknowledged the unpleasant aspects of his personal conduct, but they told the jury that Edwards has committed many sins, but no crimes.

Watch Anna Werner's full report in the video above.

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