In what turned into a dramatic day in court at the John Edwards corruption trial, Edwards' daughter left the courtroom in tears as testimony turned to her mother's reaction to her father's extramarital affair. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.
Updated at 7 p.m. ET: After a week and a half of tense and emotional testimony about the impact of John Edwards' affair on his closest associates, prosecutors shifted their focus Wednesday and began painting a picture of the former Democratic presidential candidate as a manipulative and greedy politician who used campaign donations for his own purposes.
On the eighth day of Edwards' campaign finance trial, Edwards' daughter Cate left the courtroom in tears as a witness began to recount a conversation her mother had with a campaign aide about the affair.
The witness, Christina Reynolds, told about a meeting in summer 2007 at which Elizabeth Edwards "told me that Mr. Edwards had had an affair, that he had told her about it in late 2006." Reynolds said Elizabeth Edwards told her that her husband had said the affair was over but that she suspected it really hadn't ended.
Hampton Dellinger, an NBC legal analyst, talks to TODAY's Ann Curry about the John Edwards corruption trial and what effect dramatic testimony will have on the case.
As Reynolds began testifying, Cate Edwards broke down in tears, whispered something to her father, then grabbed her purse and left the courtroom.
The episode came after Cheri Young, the wife of Edwards' onetime top aide, Andrew Young, wrapped up her testimony under pointed cross-examination from defense lawyers, who elicited details of how she profited from helping cover up Edwards' affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter.
Edwards is charged in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, N.C., with six felony counts of accepting about $1 million in illegal and unreported campaign donations from two wealthy supporters that was used to support Hunter and the Youngs during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Young testified Tuesday that she went along with the plot to pay Hunter to remain silent and to have her husband falsely claim paternity for Edwards' and Hunter's child because she loved her husband and didn't want the responsibility of bringing down a presidential campaign. Crying at times, she described what she said was the tremendous emotional toll the cover-up took on the Youngs and their marriage.
Edwards' lawyers also elicited testimony that Young came away from the scandal with a diamond ring and luxury car.
"What kept you doing these things was the money, wasn't it?" she was asked.
"No, sir, it was not," she replied.
Once Young was dismissed, there was a noticeable shift in the tone of the trial as prosecutors began calling other former Edwards aides and associates in a more straightforward effort to establish the timeline of the affair and to depict Edwards as a politician bent on protecting his public reputation.
"The jury is breathing out," Steven Friedland, a law professor at Elon University in North Carolina, said of the new phase in the proceedings. "They're seeing different witnesses. They're also laughing on occasion, so it's a very different pace."
Josh Brumberger, the campaign aide who first suspected Edwards was having an affair, recounted a heated argument at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago in 2006, which he said eventually led Edwards to fire him after he told other campaign staffers about his concerns.
Brumberger testified that Edwards challenged him to come to him directly, "like a man" and "tell me to stop f---ing her," rather than go behind his back to other staffers.
None of Brumberger's testimony directly touched on the cover-up, however, because he was no longer associated with Edwards when two prominent campaign supporters began writing checks to support Hunter and the Youngs.
The point of the testimony, Friedland said, was to "identify how John Edwards was in control."
Edwards "was the master here, the puppeteer — they worked for him," Friedland said. "That's really an important part of the prosecution's case — that it was John Edwards who was controlling."
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