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Obama aide says she knew John Edwards was lying about affair

During another emotional day at the John Edwards trial, Edwards' former press secretary recounted how Elizabeth Edwards angrily confronted a donor who was helping Rielle Hunter. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET: President Barack Obama's deputy communications director testified Wednesday that she knew former Sen. John Edwards was lying about his affair when she served as his presidential campaign spokeswoman.


Lisa Myers, Michael Austin and Stacey Klein of NBC News and Ben Thompson of NBC station WCNC of Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report by M. Alex Johnson of msnbc.com. Follow M. Alex Johnson on Twitter and Facebook.


The aide, Jennifer Palmieri, told jurors that she intentionally scheduled Edwards' interview with ABC News in August 2008 during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games to limit the potential audience for what she feared would be Edwards' intentional misstatements.

Palmieri's testimony — a rare appearance by a sitting White House official in a criminal trial — came on the 13th day of Edwards' trial in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, N.C., where he is charged with six felony counts of accepting about $1 million in illegal and unreported campaign donations from two wealthy supporters.


Palmieri related a heated exchange in an Iowa hotel room in 2007 during which Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, confronted the campaign's finance chairman, the late Fred Baron, over his payments to Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter. Baron and billionaire heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, spent about $1 million to help Edwards cover up his affair.

Palmieri said "Elizabeth was very upset" when she learned that Baron and his wife, Lisa Blue, were in contact with Hunter. Blue had even taken Hunter to Los Angeles on a shopping trip. 

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has faced public and private challenges throughout his life and career.

Elizabeth Edwards was worried that spending time and money on Hunter "makes John look even more guilty." 

"Lisa was saying 'you gotta hold your friends close and your enemies even closer,'" Palmieri said, and that "Rielle was a loose cannon" who might go to the press.

"It was a very emotional scene," she said. 

Palmieri broke down in tears on the stand recounting the death in December 2010 of Elizabeth Edwards, her close friend. She recalled that when the Edwardses split, Elizabeth Edwards was worried that when she died, there would be no man there to love her.

John Edwards was at his wife's side when she died and was in court to hear Palmieri's emotional story. But his daughter, Cate, had left the courthouse.

Prosecutors were nearing the end of their witness list and could wrap up their case as early as Thursday. so far, they have given no indication that they intend to call Hunter to testify.

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