Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez spoke with Pigeon O'Brien, a friend of former John Edwards mistress Rielle Hunter, about whether Edwards is being forthcoming about the timeline of his relationship with Hunter.
Maggie Rodriguez: Is John Edwards still lying about his affair with your friend?
Pigeon O'Brien: As of--as of his statement on Friday evening, he is lying about the timeline of the affair and other details about it, yes.
Rodriguez: She told you it started in February or March of 2006.
Rodriguez: He says it started five months later when his campaign hired her.
O'Brien: Yeah, that's not true. That's not true. It started in the winter of '06. They became involved at that point, not later in the summer when she was hired to work for the political action committee.
Rodriguez: It started in the winter of '06?
Rodriguez: Because that's when he was announcing his candidacy. And as we see in these picture she's still working for him at the time, even though he says this is when the affair was winding down.
O'Brien: It started at the other end of '06, in February, March of '06.
Rodriguez: Oh, at the beginning.
O'Brien: Yes, yes, yes.
Rodriguez: Oh, OK.
O'Brien: At the very--six months earlier than he says that it began.
Rodriguez: So when you looked at those pictures earlier with me, you said "poor thing" about Rielle. Why?
O'Brien: I--she's a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful person in a very ugly position, and I really feel for her. I think that--I really have never known someone so insistent upon integrity and honesty and openness. It's one of the most beautiful things about her. There are many beautiful things about her.
Rodriguez: But someone who has an affair with a married man you say has integrity and honesty?
O'Brien: I think she thought that he had quite a bit of integrity and I think that that appealed to her about him. Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we pick people to fall in love with that maybe aren't the greatest choice at the time. I can't judge her in that, I can't fault her in that. She fell in love and she felt loved back by this man. So unfortunately, that doesn't reflect the kind of integrity that everybody might think reflects integrity, but I'm sure she was able to deal with it and really be persuaded by her feelings of love for this man.
Rodriguez: So for her this was about love...
O'Brien: Yes, very much so.
Rodriguez: ...not sex.
O'Brien: No. No, no, no, no, no. No, no.
Rodriguez: Did she describe this as hot and heavy, frequent visits, intense, passionate?
O'Brien: Yes, yes. And intense intellectually, as well. She's a very keenly intellectually engaged woman. She's very insistent upon rigorous dialogue and she's very interested in what makes people tick. She very-digs very deeply about those things. So they would have connected and they did connect on that level as well, as human beings and as souls. They connected very deeply on that level.
Rodriguez: You say that she told you about the night that she met him at a bar.
Rodriguez: Did she describe it as, `I'm so excited to kick off this affair with this married man,' or was she ever...
Rodriguez: ...battling her conscience, like, `I met this great guy, but he's married'?
O'Brien: I don't suppose we ever went into things on the conscience level. It wasn't for me to judge and she didn't want to put me in a position to judge her. We were girlfriends, we trusted one another's decisions.
O'Brien: She may have. I don't recall a conversation where that came up with us, specifically. There were difficulties and she was very conflicted as the affair went on about aspects of it. We didn't really drill too deeply into those. I supported her.
Rodriguez: But you say that you guys lost touch when the affair got hot and heavy. Why?
O'Brien: Yes. Well, she was very involved then and I think beginning to work for his campaign. We lost touch in about May or June of '06, right before she began work on the Webisodes. I think she was gearing up to really engage in the big piece of work that she was doing for him, so her head was in a different space from the things we had been doing together. And I think she was transitioning her friendship and focusing more on him as a central person in her life, and maybe putting some of her other relationships on the sideline.
Rodriguez: She's been portrayed as this fatal attraction-like woman who was semi-stalking him, madly in love, delusional, talking bad about his wife. The woman that you claim to know for 20 years, does that ring true?
O'Brien: Not at all. It couldn't be further from the truth. And that's one reason why I'm speaking to people like you. It really bothers me what they're saying about her. It could not be further from the truth. She's a person of tremendous integrity, more so than anyone else I've ever known, insistent upon honesty and very open. It does not ring true that she would ever stalk somebody. They were very mutually engaged in this affair. I can't stress that enough. It was a mutual, committed relationship, and he persuaded her to believe so. In retrospect, I'm not sure how sincere he was about that. I don't feel that he's completely sincere about things, knowing what I know, just in terms of what he says. But, no, she never would have stalk...
Rodriguez: Have you reached out to her since this started?
O'Brien: Yes, I have. I have, I have.
O'Brien: I don't think my contact is particularly welcome at this point. She's in a very difficult place and I feel that she knows friends like me are out there thinking about her. I hope she understands that we all care for her so incredibly much and really want the best for her.
Rodriguez: Do you think that John Edwards is the father of her daughter?
O'Brien: I do.
O'Brien: I don't see any other explanation. She would not have a child with someone that she didn't love, and she loves him.
Rodriguez: She's still in love with him. Does she think this is going to work out?
O'Brien: I believe she hopes it will. I believe she hopes it will.
Rodriguez: Do you think she will continue to pursue it?
O'Brien: I'm not sure that she has pursued it. I think it's been
mutual. I can't stress that enough. I think she will continue to have love for this person and feel that she is in a relationship with him as he has led her to believe.
Rodriguez: Despite the fact that he has a wife? Has she even mentioned Elizabeth Edwards?
O'Brien: Yes. Mm-hmm.
Rodriguez: What are her feelings when she thinks of Elizabeth Edwards?
O'Brien: Well, she knows how committed--it's hard to miss how committed the Edwardses are to one another and how central the role Elizabeth plays in Mr. Edwards' life, so she's aware of him as a married man and as a partner in this very profound relationship. And she talked sometimes about those things. She's very aware of it. There are other circumstances--their affair, their connection, their love--that seemed to make it OK and comfortable for her to pursue the relationship with him. From the outside it doesn't look like we would make those same choices; she was comfortable making those choices and confident in those choices.
Rodriguez: All right, Pigeon O'Brien, thank you.
O'Brien: Thank you.