John Edwards trial: Ex-speechwriter deals blow to defense

(CBS News) John Edwards' former speechwriter dealt a blow to the defense Tuesday, claiming the former presidential candidate knew that a wealthy donor was financially supporting his mistress Rielle Hunter and their baby girl Francis Quinn.

"He had known all along that Fred (Baron) had taken care of things," Wendy Button told jurors, "I recall (Edwards) saying, 'I knew that other people were supporting Quinn.'"

But Edwards left that information out of a 2010 statement in which he admitted he was the child's father. Button helped him draft it.

"He said for legal and practical purposes we needed to take it out," Button told the court.

Edwards' lawyers claim he was unaware of the money and its use. They say former campaign staffer Andrew Young actually took most of the money for himself to build his dream home.

(Below, see analysis from "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty.)

The former senator and vice presidential candidate is accused of breaking campaign finance laws to hide an extramarital affair. He has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts related to campaign finance violations.

Earlier Tuesday, Young's friend and one-time donor Tim Toben also appeared in court. He testified that he warned President Obama's campaign to take a hard look at articles in the National Enquirer about the affair. Toben was shocked that Edwards thought he could still be Mr. Obama's running mate despite the cover-up.

"I was alarmed," Toben told jurors, "I couldn't believe a man with a 4-month old baby with another woman would seriously consider running for vice president."

The defense tried to damage Toben's credibility, pointing to emails in which Toben called the former senator a "pathetic little man" and his late wife Elizabeth "a power-hungry little control freak."

Toben denied he had any hard feelings saying, "I thought he betrayed the trust of the people he spoke for..."

Continuing their case, the prosecution has another full lineup of witnesses Wednesday: six witnesses named including another press secretary. But still no answer to the big question everyone's asking: Will Reille Hunter testify and if so, when?

  • Anna Werner

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