"In a coldly-calculated political move, John Edwards has now admitted that he had an affair, but did not father Rielle Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter."
--DBKP, John Edwards Scandal: Edwards Admits Affair, Lies, to ABC News
"Come on, guys! Believe me!
Bruce, Bob, Katie, you all believed me before!"
* Affair ended in 2006
* No more to say
* What Baby?
UPDATES to this story at DBKP.com: John Edwards Scandal: Edwards Continues Deception in Interview.
A few short minutes after ABC announced that John Edwards admitted his affair with Rielle Hunter and was going to appear on Friday's Nightline to talk about it, we wrote the words at the top of the page.
We also wrote then:
"The political calculus is: Edwards hopes that his admission of having an affair will allow the incident to blow over, allowing him to proceed with his political career."
After reading Edwards' statement, our immediate instincts were confirmed: John Edwards only came forward after he was cornered by the National Enquirer--which he repeatedly labeled "tabloid trash"--and a few in the traditional press were finally, after almost a year, beginning to take an interest.
ALSO at DBKP:
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How do I deceive thee? Let me count the ways."
Was John Edwards the "99% honest" man on Friday? At DBKP, we noticed one falsehood almost immediately, which was confirmed the next day. John Edwards said that his affair with Rielle Hunter ended in 2006. He said it three times in his statement, so it must have been an important point.
It was--and is.
It allows Edwards to claim he is not the father of Frances Quinn Hunter. We weren't the only ones who noticed that point--and others, as well.
How many times did Edwards prevaricate in his statement and interview? We believe that it happened three times--it's likely there's more when the whole truth finally comes out.
"my actions in 2006..."
"In 2006, I made a serious error in judgment and conducted myself in a way that was disloyal to my family and to my core beliefs...I was and am ashamed of my conduct and choices, and I had hoped that it would never become public. With my family, I took responsibility for my actions in 2006 and today I take full responsibility publicly. But that misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then."
--Edwards' statement: John Edwards Scandal: Edwards Releases Statement to Press
There are many reasons to believe that Edwards is lying--the word sounds harsh--when he stated that his affair with Rielle Hunter ended in 2006. There is only reason to believe John Edwards on this point: his word.
Sam Stein is back on the Edwards' case at Huffington Post and reveals that the "99% honest" man lied during his Coming Out, Coming Clean appearance on Nightline.
John Edwards' False Assertion During The ABC Interview
WOODRUFF: When you hired Ms. Hunter, that was back in 2006, the committee hired in July 2006, paid her $114,000 to make films for you... Uh was the affair going on when you hired her?
EDWARDS: No. No. And again, I always said this to you, I don't think I'm going to go through the details of this, I already did it with Elizabeth-- uh, she was hired to come in and produce films and that's the reason she was hired.
WOODRUFF: But this had nothing to do with the fact that you were having an affair with her?
EDWARDS: Same answer. Same answer -- no I did not.
WOODRUFF: So you hired her before it even started?
EDWARDS: That is correct.
A review of political action committee payments, contemporaneous reporting, and emails obtained by the Huffington Post reveal this statement to be false.
Edwards and Hunter initially met each other sometime during the winter of 2006 (either late December 2005 or early January) in a hotel restaurant in midtown Manhattan. It would be another seven months before Edwards would first pay her for the documentary work.
What happened in between that winter meeting and the start of filming? Emails sent by Hunter suggest that her romance with Edwards was in full bloom that spring. In early April, Hunter wrote about a trip she had taken to North Carolina to see the man whom she affectionately referred to as "my love lips."
A week later she wrote another email in which she described the mental anguish of "being in love with a (still somewhat dysfunctional) married man."
Stein rightly observes, "In the context of admitting to an affair, it may seem innocent for Edwards to have misled ABC about the starting point. But the precise date is important. Over the course of nine months Edwards would spend more than $114,000 of the One America Committee's budget on Hunter's films. Whether he did that in an effort to have Hunter around or as a legitimate documentary project would likely make a difference to those who thought they were contributing to a poverty-eradication effort."
Nearly a year ago--at least eight months after John Edwards alleges the affair was over--a small item was published in the New York Daily Post.
“WHICH political candidate enjoys visiting New York because he has a girlfriend who lives downtown? The pol tells her he’ll marry her when his current wife is out of the picture.”
Yesterday we wrote [John Edwards Scandal: Sister Asks Edwards to Stop Bad-mouthing Rielle Hunter - UPDATED]:
DBKP has mentioned the provocative item before and in searching for the DBKP posts it appeared in, stumbled across the NY Post reminding readers that “EDWARDS BLIND NO MORE“.
WE hate to say we told you so, and we normally never reveal the identities in our blind items, but in light of John Edwards’ finally admitting he had an extramarital affair, we bring your attention to our “Just asking” item of Aug. 27, 2007
Page Six goes on to: “Top Democrats have been assiduously following the Edwards scandal and don’t believe his denial, which was issued last year, before he was caught visiting Rielle Hunter in a Beverly Hills hotel.”
Jonathan Darman, Newsweek, followed Edwards and Hunter around on the pre-campaign trail in 2006. Darman recounts memories of a lunch in the "early summer" of 2007 with Rielle Hunter.
At lunch early that summer, I asked Rielle if she was dating anyone. She answered simply, "I'm in love." I asked, "Who with?" "I can't tell you," she said, "but maybe someday we'll all be friends."
That October, the National Enquirer wrote a story claiming that Rielle and Edwards were having an affair. Rielle called me to ask, should she put out a statement denying it? I asked her if she would give a statement to NEWSWEEK, which seemed to make her mad. She said she was talking to me as a friend, not a journalist. Though she said that our conversations had been "between you and me," we had never actually gone off the record.
The most damning evidence against Edwards claims the affair ended in 2006 is Edwards' actions themselves. The reason he repeats 2006 likely is for three reasons.
First, Edwards may have, no doubt, confessed to wife, Elizabeth, about the affair after the Enquirer's December story--when the tabloid named Hunter as the pregnant "other woman" and supplied very specific details of the affair. If he changes his story now, he's looking at another set of very serious problems on the home front.
Elizabeth Edwards apparently had her suspicions, even back in 2006, before the Enquirer named her in December. Darman relates in his article that Hunter claimed that it was Elizabeth Edwards who had Hunter "fired" frpm the campaign.
Second, if Edwards paid Hunter out of his PAC's money while the affair was going on, the FEC who get involved--and it wouldn't be pretty. Finally, if the affair with Hunter really had ended in 2006, he has an iron-clad alibi that he is not the father of Frances Quinn Hunter.
Nothing more to say
I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so, will have nothing more to say.
The inkjet printer had barely had a time to cool down when Edwards put the lie to this last sentence in his just-released statement. Described as "apoplectic" that ABC had started promoting the Nightline segment in the afternoon--before reporters had a chance to take off for the weekend and while many Americans were still at work, in front of their computers--Edwards dialed up Bob Schieffer at CBS News.
Edwards had hoped to control the news cycle by making his admission late on a Friday night when the country was watching the Olympics and the long weekend yawned ahead.
According to multiple sources, Edwards was apoplectic that ABC News broke the story on its website and began promoting it early on Friday, giving the rest of the media a chance to play catch-up and site ABC News’ report. (Representatives for Edwards did not return a call or e-mail for comment.)
--Marisa Guthrie, Broadcasting & Cable, Edwards furious with ABC News
It turns out, contrary to a statement only minutes old on the AP wire, John Edwards already had more to say. DBKP wasn't the only that noticed. ALESSANDRA STANLEY, New York Times: True or False: Everyone Looks 10 Pounds Guiltier on TV
On Friday afternoon, the former senator from North Carolina ended a long written statement with a promise: “I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so, will have nothing more to say.” He then promptly said more. Before ABC had a chance to show the “Nightline” exclusive, Mr. Edwards upstaged “Nightline” by contacting CBS.
Mr. Edwards, who dropped out of the presidential race in January, was well on his way to becoming a private citizen when he made his admission. He said the sin of hubris drove him to have an affair, telling Mr. Woodruff that he strayed because political campaigns “fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want.”
Narcissism doesn’t lead politicians to believe that they can have an affair and get away with it. It leads them to believe that they can go on television and dispel it.
A small lie, or an intention quickly changed, due to even quicker events passing it by?
Lawhawk conveniently handles this in "Small Lies and Big Lies".
Who Let the Tabloid Dogs Out?
Tabloid and dogs pop up in the Edwards' statement. Edwards referred to "tabloids" hounding him. Edwards' pal, Fred Baron, in one his statements referred to tabloids "dogging, dogging" Edwards and Hunter. A search revealed, however, it was not "tabloids" as was repeated by Edwards and Baron.
It was only the National Enquirer. We could find no references to the Star or any other tabloids mentioning the John Edwards affair. Even the Enquirer's sister publication didn't mention it--at least that could be searched.
So, "tabloids" pursuing Mr. Edwards turns out to be one tabloid, The National Enquirer. But, as no other media--outside of a few in the blogosphere bothered to investigate or pursue the story--one struggles to imagine how this could have been the living hell that Edwards claims.
Again, a small discrepancy for a man who had over a week to craft his statement, using his skills as a trial attorney.
Who's that Baby?
In ABC News's transcript of the Edwards interview, Edwards goes out on a limb--a big one, DBKP believes--when he denies a baby being at the Beverly Hilton with him. He waltzes around answering the question; instead, positing conspiracy PhotoShop theories for any Edwards supporters that still may be out there.
WOODRUFF: People say they are in contact with her, have told us that you have met her out in California several times. True?
EDWARDS: I met her this last time when I was in California for the very purpose that you and I just spoke about.
WOODRUFF: And that picture is absolutely you and you are holding that baby.
EDWARDS: The picture in the tabloid. I have no idea what that picture is.
WOODRUFF: But you've seen it right?
EDWARDS: I did see it and I cannot make any sense out of that. When I went to this meeting you've already asked me about, uh, I was not wearing a t-shirt, I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I don't know who that picture -- I don't know if that picture is me, it could well be, it looks like me. I don't know who that baby is, I have no idea what that picture is.
Woodruff won't let the matter stand. Finally, after Woodruff pursues the issue, John Edwards does answer with a simple, straightforward "no"--a rarity, so far, in this story.
WOODRUFF: But are you saying you don't remember holding that child of Miss Hunter?
EDWARDS: I'm saying you asked me about this photograph, I don't know anything about that photograph, I don't know who that baby is. I don't know if the picture has been altered, manufactured, if it's a picture of me taken some other time, holding another baby -- I have no idea. I was not at this meeting holding a child for my photograph to be taken I can tell you that.
WOODRUFF: You did say you did meet her at a hotel in California.
EDWARDS: She was there, Mr. McGovern was present, and that's where the meeting took place.
WOODRUFF: But you don't remember a baby being there?
Though there is no proof at this point--outside of the Enquirer's offices--to refute this allegation by Edwards, we are certain that John Edwards will soon regret the one time he gave Woodruff a simple direct answer.
One important point to keep in mind in the coming days: Woodruff's wording of the question allowed John Edwards a legalistic escape.
Anyone who's watched tapes of the Watergate hearings can recall the parade of witnesses before Congress and their many statements ending, "to the best of my recollections". John Edwards did not say that there was no baby present: he said he didn't remember a baby being there.
This gave Edwards a possible escape from perjury in the court of public opinion.
By the time Edwards had finished his interview and released a statement, Fred Baron was also talking to the press. ABC News has been reported as having already tied Edwards to the $15,000 payments to Hunter.
We'll let the Baron/hush money matter stand until another day.