Published May 10, 2012
Even as John Edwards' presidential hopes dwindled, the candidate had ambitions for high office, his former senior economic adviser testified Thursday.
"We talked about a more elaborate long-term goal of Mr. Edwards, which was to be a Supreme Court justice," Leo Hindery said on the witness stand.
Instead of landing on the federal bench, Edwards is now a defendant in federal court. The detail about Edwards' lingering political aspirations emerged shortly before the prosecution rested its case Thursday in that trial, calling its last set of witnesses after a dramatic three weeks of testimony.
Prosecutors did not end up calling the mistress, Rielle Hunter, to the stand, despite her featuring prominently in much of the testimony so far.
"They probably thought she was too dangerous," Steven Friedland, a law professor at Elon University and former federal prosecutor, told Fox News.
Instead, prosecutors attempted to leave jurors with an impression of Edwards as a career politician who still had ambitions for high office, even as his presidential hopes and marriage were crumbling. On the prosecution's last day of witness testimony Thursday, the government was also working hard to prove that the botched attempt to hide Edwards' extramarital affair was to protect his political career -- and not just his family. They argue that money channeled toward Hunter while the affair remained a secret constituted an illegal campaign donation.
Prosecutors, as part of that effort, called two FBI agents to the stand to confirm payments that benefactor Fred Baron made while moving Hunter around the country along with former campaign aide, Andrew Young.
Throughout the trial, the defense has attempted to portray Young as an opportunist, who profited off his former boss's affair.
In an apparent attempt to humanize Young for the jury, prosecutors asked Hindery about a February 2009 meeting he had with Young and his wife, as the former aide was considering writing his tell-all book.
"He was very, very nervous," Hindery said. "Mrs. Young periodically had some tears. He was worried about employment and how he would pay the expenses of his family."
Later, Hindery added, "He was as sad a young man as I had ever been around."
Once prosecutors rest their case, Judge Catherine Eagles plans to dismiss the jury for the weekend and reserve Friday's session for discussions with the lawyers involved with the case.
On Monday, the defense is scheduled to begin calling its witnesses to the stand. Although Edwards' mistress is on the defense's list of witnesses, that's no guarantee she'll actually testify.
"We may not see Rielle Hunter," Friedland said. "We saw a big tactical decision by the prosecution not to call her. It may not be in the defense's interest right now to call her either."