What Edwards' Campaign Knew About Affair

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate John Edwards admits to ABC News that he, in fact, had an extra marital affair while his wife, Elizabeth, was battling cancer, although he says she was in remission.

But he continues to deny fathering the woman's child. And he also says he has not taken a paternity test.

? Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview

Edwards releasing this statement just after the story broke. It says the following:

"In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs. I recognized my mistake and I told my wife that I had a liaison with another woman. And I asked for her forgiveness.

Although I was very honest in every painful with my family, I did not tell the public. When a supermarket tabloid told a version of the story, I used the fact that the story contained many falsities to deny it. But being 99 percent is no longer enough.

It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, as it is inadequate to say to the people who love me that I am sorry. In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic.

If you want to beat me up, feel free. You cannot beat me up more than I have already beaten myself up. I have been stripped bare and will now work with everything that I have to help my family and others who need my help. I have given a complete interview on this matter, and having done so, will have nothing more to say."

And moments ago, Elizabeth Edwards released the following as well.

"John made a terrible mistake in 2006, but he did tell me and we began a long and painful process in 2006, a process oddly made somewhat easier with my diagnosis in March of 2007.

This was our private matter, and I frankly wanted it to be private because as painful as it was I did not want to have to play it out on a public stage as well."

Edwards made the admission, by the way, to ABC News after spending months denying the affair, by the way.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: By the way, that — the affair was originally reported by The National Enquirer and they've been doing that for more than a year.

Here's Edwards in late July responding to a reporter's question about the very topic.


JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no idea what you're asking about. I've responded to — consistently to these tabloid allegations about saying I don't respond to these lies, and you know that, Raylene, you've covered me. And I stand by that.


COLMES: The woman at the center of the story is 42-year-old Rielle Hunter. Edwards tells ABC that Rielle was hired to make documentary videos to his campaign, and here's a clip of her telling "Extra" how she met the former senator.


RIELLE HUNTER, FILMMAKER: It was a random meeting. He was in a business meeting in New York, and I was in the same place.


COLMES: And his admission comes weeks after The National Enquirer claimed they caught Edwards visiting Hunter and her love child at a Los Angeles hotel. This bombshell breaks just a few weeks before the Democratic convention where it's been rumored that Edwards would potentially be speaking.

Here with reaction, John Edwards' former communications director, Chris Kofinis.

Chris, good to have you back on the show, especially tonight.


COLMES: Did you have any inkling of this?

KOFINIS: No, not at all. I mean when — when this story first broke in October, it was made very clear to us that this was false, that these allegations were not true, and we went out there, you know, and I went out there and a lot of other staff, and defended Senator Edwards, you know, passionately and vigorously, as every good campaign staff does.

You know it's unfortunate, it's very heart-breaking, and I think devastating news to his supporters, to the staff that worked so hard for him.


KOFINIS: . and not to mention, you know, the volunteers out there across the country, and no question, incredibly, I think, you know, devastating and difficult for his family, and my thoughts and prayers goes to Elizabeth and the senator in dealing with what is clearly a incredibly difficult personal issue.

COLMES: Chris, do you feel betrayed, and are you angry?

KOFINIS: Well, you know, I don't want to say I'm angry. You know when you work on a campaign, you sacrifice a lot. You know when I joined the campaign I had a 6-month-old — I missed her first words and her first steps, and that's difficult, and — but you know that's a small sacrifice compared to the lot of sacrifices — a lot of other campaign staff make for the candidates they work for.

And we do it because we believe in the cause, and I believe in the cause. You know we fought for righteous issues. So, you know, I don't want to get into the fact about whether I feel angry or not.


KOFINIS: I'm incredibly disappointed, but at the end of the day, you know, I have a lot of sympathy for what Senator Edwards is going through, and what Elizabeth is going through. You know she's already dealing with a lot with her medical condition and cancer, to say the least, so, you know, that's where my thoughts and prayers are tonight.

I'm not thinking about myself.

COLMES: There's a little piece of the story coming out throughout the day, and the latest piece to come out just a few moments ago is that a donor from Texas named Fred Baron, a big Democratic donor, apparently did pay — I don't know whether it's called hush money or not — but did pay for relocation and housing expenses for Miss Rielle Hunter and for this child.

Now did you know anything about that? Do you know Mr. Baron? Because John Edwards had said he was not aware — although he didn't close the door on the possibility that some of his supporters might have paid some money that he was not aware of.

KOFINIS: I know Fred from the campaign. I did not know anything about this, and it's a pretty strange, you know, revelation, and — you know it's tough to deal with what has been an absolute whirlwind of a story when this exploded — you know late this afternoon.

HANNITY: Hey, Chris.

KOFINIS: But you know, at the end of the day, again, I think we have to keep our focus on, you know, this family. He's a human being. He made a terrible mistake. He's paying a very difficult and severe price publicly and in the media spotlight. And you know, I think that's where we got to keep focus.

HANNITY: Hey, Chris.

KOFINIS: Yes, Sean, sorry.

HANNITY: I agree with that. And it's Sean here. My thoughts and prayers go out to Elizabeth and his kids and his family, and they're going to suffer as a result of his decision-making, and for that I'm sorry, I mean that sincerely.

But I'm not sure if he's being honest with us at this point. In his own statement today, he said this conduct took place for a short period of time in 2006. He says it ended then.

If it ended then, what was he doing at 2:00 in the morning in a hotel room in Los Angeles with the woman and according to The National Enquirer they have pictures of him holding the baby?

KOFINIS: You know, Sean, I don't know what to say to that. I don't have any knowledge or information about that, and, again, you know, those details — I know it's going to attract a lot of media attention in the coming days, but it's not really where my focus is.

You know this is a family that is going.

HANNITY: I'm not asking you where your focus is. I understand that. But I mean don't you think — does that sound a little disingenuous and dishonest to you?

KOFINIS: Listen, I — you know I am personally pretty devastated, and I can only imagine the staff and others that worked for him a lot longer than I did, how they feel. I don't understand, you know, how this all came about.

It's unfortunate, to say the least, but, you know, this is something that, I think, we're going to have to get past, and, you know, again, at the end of the day, he's a human being. He made a terrible, terrible mistake, and he's paying about it as severe a price as you can in a, if you will, public, you know — you know, humiliation, and that's pretty severe.

But, again, my focus is on his family, and in particular Elizabeth, and wishing them that, you know, the best that they can figure out a way to get through this as best they can.

HANNITY: Let me ask you. Did you know the woman?

KOFINIS: No, I didn't. She wasn't on the campaign when I joined in July. So I didn't.

HANNITY: We they apparently — according to this report they traveled around the country together including Africa, and she was paid $114,000 to — produce campaign Web site documentaries of which she had no experience.

Is there any illegality to that potential?

KOFINIS: I don't know the answer to that. I don't think so, but I honestly don't — I don't know what the answer to that is, Sean. I'm sorry.

HANNITY: Let me ask you one last question about the veracity of his statement today, if I can, Chris, and that has to do with this money. He said — denied paying any money to keep her from going public. He said it was possible some of his friends or supporters may have made payments.

How would that have been possible had he not discussed it with them that this had all taken place?

KOFINIS: You know I have no idea. I don't know the details. The only thing that I did and I know a lot of other staff on the campaign did, is we — you know took the senator at his word, and we went out there and defended him passionately and vigorously, as I think would be expected.

You know, clearly what was told to us was not true, is now true. It's unfortunate, but, again, you know, I put that in the past, and I'm not going to focus on anything else but, you know, the reality of a family going through a terrible situation, and, again, I hope we can put it in perspective and keep them in our thoughts and prayers, and hope they can get through this as best they can.

COLMES: All right, Chris. Thank you very much.

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