A former confidante of John Edwards testified today that he and Edwards' longtime aide Andrew Young had come to dislike Edwards so much that they laughed about the money to be made from selling a sex tape the presidential candidate had made with his mistress.
Tim Toben, a North Carolina businessman and one-time Edwards' supporter, admitted on the stand during Edward's corruption trial that he and Young joked about the consequences of releasing the sex tape, and disparaged Edwards, a man both men once admired but came to resent.
Toben said Young had told him about a "personal and private video tape" depicting Edwards and mistress Rielle Hunter having sex, while the two men watched a football game together.
"I wonder what that tape is worth today," Toben asked Young in an email soon after a National Enquirer ran a story about Edwards' love child.
Toben said they joked about how much money they could sell the tape for, adding "the numbers were pretty big numbers."
Toben, who was once so close to Edwards he was asked to sneak a pregnant Hunter out of North Carolina in the dead of night, said after Edwards quit the race he went to the Obama campaign to warn them of offering Edwards a job in the administration.
He recalled dining with Edwards at a swank restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C., in which Edwards bragged about his prospects in a potential Obama administration, despite the National Enquirer story about his mistress and baby.
"That was so astonishing to me," Toben said. "The clear message I got was if he was offered a slot he would take it."
Toben arranged a meeting with an Obama campaign official and told an Obama operative that the campaign should take seriously the stories reported in National Enquirer about Edwards' then unconfirmed mistress and baby if considering the senator for the posts of vice president or attorney general.
"Usually, they get it wrong. In this case I don't think they did," Toben said of the tabloid's reporting.
Tobens said he was let down by Edwards' behavior.
"I thought he betrayed the trust of the people he spoke for," Tobens said.
Edwards is accused of illegal using nearly $1 million in campaign donations to hide his mistress. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Edwards' defense is that the money was never intended for political purposes, but only to keep his mistress a secret from his wife. He claims he did not know about much of the money Young had sought from wealthy donors and that Young was out to keep much of it for himself.
Edwards' lawyers sought to depict Toben and Young as embittered men, angry at Edwards and out to make money off their knowledge of his affair.
In a series of emails between Young and Toben, the men routinely disparage Edwards and his wife Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.
In his emails to Young who was writing a tell-all memoir at the time, Toben calls Edwards a "pathetic little man" and "a sick evil bastard."
"I can't wait for you to OUT him," Toben wrote to Young. "He's an ass and always will be."
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