Ex-aide recalls John Edwards' visit with key donor
GREENSBORO, N.C.—An aide who traveled with John Edwards testified Wednesday about the former presidential candidate's first meeting with a key donor whose money was eventually used to hide his mistress, describing how the donor soon became fond of Edwards.
Josh Brumberger, now 33, described accompanying Edwards to the Virginia home of Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in December of 2005. Soon after, she made the first of a series of substantial donations.
Brumberger's testimony is a key part of prosecutors' efforts to establish the timeline of the affair and efforts to conceal it. Prosecutors said Edwards used money from wealthy donors to hide the mistress. Edwards' attorneys have said he didn't know it was being used to hide her and that another former aide, Andrew Young, spent it on his dream house.
Brumberger also described how Edwards and his associates made efforts to stay in touch with Mellon, including calling on her birthday and sending flowers. Brumberger said that it was typical for Edwards to have "call time" with major donors.
Months after the first meeting with Mellon, Brumberger was with Edwards when he called her on her birthday from North Dakota. Young had sent an email to Brumberger reminding him that the call needed to be made, and Brumberger later responded that it had gone well.
"JRE called. Bunny is still in LOVE," Brumberger wrote in the email, referring to Edwards by his initials.
After the email was displayed in court on Wednesday, prosecutors asked Brumberger what it meant.
"I believe what I meant by that is Ms. Mellon was still supportive of Mr. Edwards's causes," Brumberger testified to laughter in the courtroom.
Brumberger was also with Edwards the night that his mistress, Rielle Hunter, introduced herself in the bar of a New York hotel. He hadn't yet discussed that night during the morning's testimony.
Brumberger was pushed aside by Edwards after he tried to convince the married candidate to stop the affair.