John Edwards adds to legal team

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverMarch 6, 2012 

RALEIGH — John Edwards, the former Democratic U.S. presidential candidate accused of flouting campaign finance laws to hide his mistress and her pregnancy from the public, added new attorneys to the team representing him in his federal criminal case.

Two Greensboro lawyers who represented Rielle Hunter, the campaign videographer with whom Edwards had an extramarital affair and a daughter, have joined the former senator's trial team.

Alan Duncan and Allison Van Laningham, the new additions, represented Hunter in her civil case against Andrew Young , a former campaign aide who wrote a tell-all book about the presidential campaign, and his wife, Cheri Young.

Hunter accused the Youngs, expected to be key witnesses for federal prosecutors, of taking personal property, including a videotape, which purportedly shows her engaged in sexual activity with Edwards.

That lawsuit was settled a little more than a week ago when Hunter's attorneys successfully orchestrated destruction of the tape and return of other property. Edwards' legal team declined to elaborate on why the Greensboro attorneys were added. Prosecutors could not be reached Monday.

Prosecutors have tried in the past to push some of Edwards' attorneys off his legal team, arguing in some cases that they planned to call witnesses who might cause a conflict of interest for lawyers of the accused.

Wade Smith, a Raleigh lawyer, bowed out last year after prosecutors questioned a 2009 conversation he had with Alex Forger, a New York lawyer who advised Bunny Mellon, a key figures in the case. That discussion put Smith in the position of possibly being a witness in a trial expected to test the sweep of federal campaign finance laws.

Edwards, 58, is accused of violating those laws by secretly obtaining and using contributions from Mellon and another wealthy supporter to hide Hunter from the public during his 2008 presidential run.

Prosecutors argue the donations exceeded legal limits and were campaign contributions because they were meant to hide the affair so Edwards could keep his presidential bid alive.

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