Andrew Young tells The Daily Beast he’s going on the offensive against his old boss, John Edwards. Diane Dimond reveals how the sex tape imperils the ex-candidate—and its graphic details.
Senator John Edwards, the man who fancied himself a world-class trial lawyer and certain presidential material, has recently ignored the greatest lesson of Bill Clinton, another Southerner with a legal background and presidential destiny: Once your sex life gets dumped into the judicial system, only bad things can follow.
Things are indeed about to get worse for John Edwards, almost all of it his own doing. Besides making a sex tape, the details of which sources shared with The Daily Beast, Edwards apparently ignored the perils of the public eye, and had the mother of his love child file an invasion of privacy lawsuit against his nemesis—a long-trusted political staffer named Andrew Young, the author of the bestselling tell-all, The Politician.
It’s not just the raw nature of the video, but its context—a married presidential candidate with a cancer-stricken wife, roughly a dozen weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
On Friday, Young avoided being sent to jail on contempt of court charges. “I’m finally able to relax a bit for the first time in years,” he tells The Daily Beast. And now, he’s going on the offensive. “I just want to get on with the merits of this case,” Young said. “And the next step is depositions.”
“Deposition” is a powerful word. Rielle Hunter’s lawsuit gives Andrew Young’s side the opening to force Edwards and his lover to sit and answer questions under oath about their relationship, finances, and 2-year-old child. Now Hunter is telling her story–she has just spoken out in an extensive interview with GQ. An eerily similar deposition, connected to a legal case involving Paula Jones and involving President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, was what led to Clinton’s impeachment.
In Clinton’s case, the smoking gun was the infamous blue dress. In this case, it’s the sex tape. That video, in fact, sits in the middle of Hunter’s suit—she claims that that Young and his wife, Cheri, with whom she’d lived while pregnant and on the lam from inquisitive reporters in 2007 and early 2008, stole personal items, including the tape.
• Ann Louise Bardach: My Tenant, Rielle Hunter• Diane Dimond: John Edwards’ Other WomenThe Daily Beast can now describe the video in detail, based on accounts from multiple people who have viewed it. One source who has a medical background and has worked with pregnant patients says Hunter appears four or five months pregnant based on the swollen state of her belly and nipples. This would place the tape’s filming somewhere around September or October of 2007, smack in the middle of Edwards campaign for the presidency.
On the video, both participants are naked. Hunter is propped up against the hotel bed headboard, with John Edwards belly-down on the bed between her legs. As Hunter, the campaign’s official videographer, holds the camera, a smiling Edwards performs oral sex. Because of the camera angle, Hunter’s face is not visible, but her distinctive jewelry is. Not only does candidate Edwards know he’s being filmed, one source says, he’s also clowning around and “graphically performing for the camera.”
It’s not just the raw nature of the video, but its context—a married presidential candidate with a cancer-stricken wife, roughly a dozen weeks before his make-or-break moment, the Iowa caucuses—that makes it so damning. A leading candidate to be commander in chief putting himself in an easy position to be extorted.
During the recent hearing in the Hunter lawsuit, the Youngs told the court that Hunter had carelessly abandoned the videotape and other items at their home in North Carolina. They said they had quietly kept the things for two years because they were on the run with Hunter—from Aspen to Santa Barbara and points in between—and no one ever asked for the items back. More importantly, they kept the tape because it was proof that it was the senator who was having the affair with Hunter, not Andrew Young.
In his book, Young admits that he foolishly and falsely told the media that Hunter’s baby was his to protect his boss. Young told The Daily Beast that Edwards begged him, “let Elizabeth die with dignity… don’t let Elizabeth die knowing the truth.” The senator promised to correct the public record after Elizabeth’s funeral.
As everyone knows, Elizabeth is still alive, nearly three years later. In a recent email to Andrew Young, in which Elizabeth threatens to file her own lawsuit against him, she declares that she’s never been near death and will certainly live to see the end of the threatened litigation.
The judge’s decision on Friday to clear Young of contempt stems from claims made by Rielle Hunter’s large legal team, widely believed to be bankrolled by Edwards, that Young was withholding evidence, and had other copies of the infamous tape.
After learning he would not be held in contempt or sent to jail, Young told The Daily Beast he felt like, “The weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders.” Young and his wife timidly ventured forth for dinner in Chapel Hill at the end of the court session and were surprised when 10 different strangers interrupted to say they were proud the Youngs had stood up against the “rich, arrogant, abuse of power” the Edwards had long displayed in North Carolina.
Young maintains the Edwards have spent much of the last two years smearing both him and his wife in a perverted effort to keep them from earning a living. He says John Edwards once told him, “Oh, you know, Andrew, the voters don’t care about politician’s affairs. If this ever gets out, it will be a one-day story.”
“Everyone knew Bill Clinton was a rogue,” says Young. “They knew it about Newt Gingrich too.” But in John Edwards case, he “sold himself as a dedicated family man, with a sick wife… and he brought up religion whenever he could.”
Now, Edwards will have to answer to all that while under oath during depositions made necessary by his former mistress’ continuing suit against Andrew Young.
Edwards faces more legal headaches. Andrew Young actually turned over more items than the court order demanded. Included in the stash were eight photographs, the video sex tape, copies of the tape, a Hunter document entitled “The Slut Club,” and other items. The Youngs’ lawyers asked the judge to hold onto the material, because it has also been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating whether Senator Edwards misused presidential campaign funds to keep his pregnant lover in hiding.
Sources with knowledge of that grand jury investigation say the case is now complete and an indictment is imminent.
Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered the Michael Jackson story since 1993 when she first broke the news that the King of Pop was under investigation for child molestation. She is author of the book, Be Careful Who You Love—Inside the Michael Jackson Case. She lives in New York with her husband, broadcast journalist Michael Schoen.