GREENSBORO, N.C. - Prosecutors rested their case against John Edwards on Thursday after calling to the witness stand some of his closest friends and advisers, many of whom gave dramatic, often unflattering testimony about the former presidential candidate whose once-promising political career collapsed amid a sex scandal.
Edwards is accused of being the mastermind behind a plan to use secret payments from two wealthy campaign donors to hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008. The trial centers on whether Edwards knew what the money was being used for, and when he knew it.
While the last 14 days of testimony have focused on the money trail, the trial has also revisited Edwards' breathtaking fall. He had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a videographer on his campaign, as he renewed his marriage vows to his cancer-stricken wife. He fathered a child with Hunter, and then a decision was made for his right-hand man to claim paternity so Edwards could keep up his lofty political ambitions. And he lied repeatedly to his wife, his advisers and the public.
Jurors will have to look beyond Edwards' character, though. As prosecutors wrapped up their case, they showed the jury records detailing the money spent to hide Hunter - $319,500 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets, and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif. The bills, flashed up on a large screen for the jury to see, were all paid by Fred Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer who served as Edwards' 2008 campaign finance chairman.
Hunter was being watched over by Edwards' once-close confidant, Andrew Young, who falsely claimed paternity of boss' baby as the tabloid prepared to expose the affair.
As part of the cover-up, Baron paid for Hunter - and Young and his wife - to cross the country on private flights worth more than $80,000 and stay in waterfront hotel suites.
Edwards' defense team will ask U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles on Friday to dismiss the case, arguing that prosecutors haven't proved their case. If the judge allows the trial to go forward, the defense will begin presenting its side Monday - and may call Hunter to testify. Edwards could also take the stand.