John Edwards' daughter left the courtroom in tears Wednesday as a former aide testified about an argument Edwards had with his now-deceased wife, Elizabeth, on the day a tabloid published a story on his affair.
Edwards turned to his daughter, Cate, as witness Christina Reynolds was beginning the account of the argument at the Raleigh airport. As Edwards asked if his daughter wanted to leave, Cate walked out of the room wiping her tears. She later returned to court after a recess.
Reynolds, the candidate's onetime communications adviser, was also a confidante of Elizabeth Edwards. Reynolds recently joined the board of the educational foundation named for Elizabeth Edwards, who died in December 2010 after a years-long fight with cancer.
Reynolds told the court that Elizabeth Edwards asked her over to the family's Chapel Hill home in the summer of 2007 and revealed that her husband had confessed to an affair the previous year. The two women had bonded because they had similar backgrounds in military families.
The following October, Reynolds testified, she observed a very upset Elizabeth Edwards confront her husband at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on the morning that The National Enquirer published a story about the affair. She stormed off and then collapsed in the parking lot, Reynolds said, and the aide and another staff member helped her into the bathroom of a private hangar.
After collecting herself, Elizabeth Edwards came back into the hangar, found her husband and began yelling. She then pulled off her shirt and bra, leaving herself bare-chested, Reynolds said.
"You don't see me anymore," Reynolds quoted the wife as saying.
Reynolds said Edwards didn't show emotion, but that he called his wife's doctor and asked for help.
Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six counts related to campaign-finance violations. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.
Matt Nelson, a former scheduler and director of operations for the campaign, testified that he recalled driving another staffer, the candidate and his wife to the airport on the day of the confrontation.
Nelson said Elizabeth Edwards grabbed her husband in a sexual way and demanded, "Is this what you do in New York City?"
According to Nelson, John Edwards tried to get her to stop, saying, "Not in front of our friends," to which his wife responded, "They're not our friends. They're our staff."
In other testimony Wednesday, another former aide, Josh Brumberger, spoke in great detail about the presidential campaign's experience with mistress Rielle Hunter -- who was originally hired as the campaign's videographer. It was another dramatic day in the courtroom, as the Edwards' defense also filed a motion to have the testimony of another ex-aide's wife stricken from the record.
Brumberger, in his testimony, described Hunter as "a little nutty." Brumberger told prosecutors he became concerned after searching Google for information on Hunter, who was hired as a campaign consultant shortly after approaching Edwards in a New York City hotel lounge.
"What I found online was pretty much sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and astrology," Brumberger said.
The former aide said Hunter received health insurance provided by the campaign, which was unusual for a non-staff consultant.
"The whole thing is odd," he said. "But I talked to (Edwards) and he's adamant about it."
According to Brumberger, most campaign staff flew commercial to save costs, but Hunter demanded to fly on Edwards' private charters. He said other staffers began to notice Edwards carrying Hunter's bags. And on one campaign trip, Brumberger said he saw Hunter enter Edwards' hotel room wearing "overnight apparel."
Prosecutors asked Brumberger what he thought of Hunter's work as a campaign videographer.
"Shoddy and unprofessional," he replied. "I didn't think the work she did made him look presidential."
"She didn't fade into the background like the rest of the staff usually did," he added.
Brumberger said, as his concerns about Hunter grew, Edwards started taking more initiative to include her on campaign trips. Brumberger said when he voiced his concerns to Edwards, the candidate disregarded them, and their relationship became strained.
He described a meeting at an airport on Oct. 16, 2006, in which Edwards was enraged at Brumberger for discussing his suspicions of the affair with other staffers.
"Edwards said if you thought I was (expletive) her, why not come to him first? He said he didn't trust me anymore and I shouldn't have spoken with others."
The two parted ways.
Under cross-examination, Edwards' lawyer Abbe Lowell asked whether Brumberger thought Edwards was going to kill him.
Brumberger chuckled. "I didn't think I was a dead man walking."
While the soap opera-like qualities of the story behind the trial run the risk of distracting jurors from the key issue of whether Edward's violated campaign finance laws, one law professor watching the trial said the testimony appears to be keeping them focused.
"The tawdriness definitely keeps them awake, which has a nice byproduct," said Steven Friedland of Elon University. "They're paying attention to a lot of what's going on, even though it's technical."
Fox News' Jonathan Serrie and The Associated Press contributed to this report.