Witness says he warned Obama campaign in '08 about Edwards affair

A neighbor and buddy of the former campaign aide at the center of the John Edwards trial disclosed Tuesday that he went to the Obama campaign in 2008 to warn them directly about Edwards' hanky-panky.

The detail emerged during witness Tim Toben's aggressive cross-examination by Edwards' lawyers.

The witness claimed that following a June 2008 dinner in which Edwards expressed interest in being vice president, Toben called the Obama campaign.

"I said, 'I had dinner with Mr. Edwards and he seemed very bullish about his prospects of being on the ticket. You've seen the tabloid reports and usually they get these wrong. But in this case I don't think they did,'" Toben said.

He wouldn't have been the first person in Edwards' orbit to have concerns or doubts about Edwards' claims that the tabloid reports were wrong. Ex-staffers have testified over the course of the trial about the signs they noticed that he was having an affair.

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Prosecutors later asked Toben why he warned the Obama campaign about Edwards' affair.
Toben said: "I was alarmed. I couldn't believe what I had heard. I couldn't believe that a man with a four-month-old baby was thinking about running for vice president."

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Allison Van Laningham also questioned Toben about his apparent role in encouraging Young to write his tell-all book about his boss's affair.

"You wanted him to out Mr. Edwards," she said.

Toben replied, "Oh, no ma'am. Well, I wanted him to tell the truth. This charade was ridiculous."

Laningham went into emails between Toben and Young to raise the issue of whether Toben profited from controversy surrounding the affair as well.

At one point, Toben interjected, "I can tell you that I never got any money from this."

Laningham: "This is something you thought was fun to do."

Toben: "I thought it was a worthwhile endeavor."

Laningham pointed out one email in which Toben advised Young on writing his book "to castigate Mr. Edwards."

"This was not about telling the absolute truth. This was about selling a book," the attorney said.

Toben disagreed, insisting he had advised Young to tell the truth.

Langingham brought up another email Toben sent Young, in which he described Edwards as a "pathetic little man."

In another email, Toben wrote to Young: "Can't wait for you to out him."

Asked about this, Toben said: "I was becoming very weary of the whole story at that point. And I was ready for it to end, yes."

In another email in 2009, Toben wrote to Young describing Edwards as "a sick evil bastard."

The prosecution asked Toben to elaborate more on why he encouraged Young to write his book.

Toben said: "I told him, 'It's done. ... He's not gonna come back. He's not the guy you thought he was. This is a story that needs to get out. You can't live your life under this cloud.'"