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Edwards' fate hinges on ex-right-hand man and wife

Associated Press Modified: April 29, 2012 at 11:01 am •  Published: April 29, 2012

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Andrew Young first saw John Edwards speak at an oceanfront hotel in 1998. He was captivated by the U.S. Senate candidate's speech and told his future wife Edwards was going to be president someday — and he was going to work for him.

She rolled her eyes.

Young wound up becoming one of Edwards' closest aides, so intoxicated by the power and money he claimed to be the father of Edwards' child to take the heat off of his boss. Young recalled telling his wife, Cheri, about the plan he said Edwards concocted.

"Are you out of your mind? Why would you even tell me about this? Why didn't you just say no?" Young, now 46, wrote of his wife's reaction.

Despite the outrageous lies and years of cover-ups, Cheri and Andrew Young have stayed together. They are now reliving their volatile relationship with the Edwards family as the star witnesses in the former presidential candidate's campaign corruption trial.

"Anything that the Edwardses needed to be handled, he did it," Cheri, 38, said as she began her testimony Friday. That included everything from picking up the Democrat at the airport, to doing yard work or buying Christmas presents for the Edwards children.

She said her husband's long work hours and dedication to his boss led to tension in their marriage, "because he was never able to do those things for my family."

Prosecutors accuse Edwards of using campaign money from wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Young testified for five days last week. He said Edwards knew the money was being spent to hide Hunter, but also acknowledged that he used much of the funds to build his North Carolina dream house.

Edwards' attorneys have assailed Andrew Young's credibility, disputing claims he made in a tell-all book and painting him as a pathological liar. Questions also arose in the courtroom this week about what the judge termed "a one-night stand" Young is accused of having with a married campaign staffer.

Young's wife of 12 years has stuck by her husband, even agreeing to live with Hunter for months as they were hiding from the public eye.

Young dedicated his book, "The Politician," to his wife. He praised her understanding as he worked long hours to get into Edwards' inner circle, and her discretion as he shared Edwards' secrets.

Andrew Young graduated from Wake Forest University law school. His wife was a nurse.

They met while he was fetching drinks for a friend at a bar called Senor Frog's in Cancun, Mexico. Years later, their relationship faced a test, when Young told her Edwards had asked to let Hunter live with them because tabloid reporters were trying to link the politician and his mistress. Edwards' lawyers contend it was the other way around, with Young volunteering to take the fall.

"Cheri had seen so much crazy stuff where the Edwardses were concerned that she wasn't exactly surprised," Young recounted in his book. "Instead, she was angry and disgusted. But she trusted me enough to just shake her head in a weary way and say OK."

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