John Edwards arrives with his daughter Cate Edwards at the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday.
Government attorneys argued Monday that Edwards, the former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate, knew two wealthy contributors had provided the nearly $1 million to hide his pregnant mistress. They said the donations were tantamount to "campaign contributions" intended to preserve Edwards' "family man" image during his 2008 campaign.
But the defense argued the donations were merely "private money" intended to protect Edwards' family from embarrassment. Edwards' lawyers told jurors most of the money, which was handled by former campaign staffer Andrew Young, went toward building Young's new house in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Young, who was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony, is expected to take the witness stand Monday afternoon. The defense hopes to discredit Young's testimony as the prosecution's key witness.
Much of the money at issue was funneled to Young, the former campaign aide once so close to Edwards that Andrews initially claimed paternity of his boss's illegitimate child. Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later embarked with her on a cross-country odyssey as they sought to elude tabloid reporters trying to expose the candidate's extramarital affair.
Young later fell out with Edwards and wrote an unflattering tell-all book, "The Politician." Young and Hunter recently ended a two-year legal battle over ownership of a sex tape the mistress recorded with Edwards during the campaign, agreeing to a settlement that dictates that copies of the video will be destroyed.
After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in 2010. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.