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Accepting paternity for Edwards' baby was lie, aide's wife says

The wife of a former aide to John Edwards rebuffed questions Tuesday about whether she had any incentive to lie to hurt the former presidential candidate.

"Sir, I'm here to tell the truth about my experiences, about my life," Cheri Young said in response to one of Edwards' defense lawyers. "It was a lie when we accepted paternity for your client, and that is why we are here today."

Her husband, Andrew Young, was among Edwards' closest aides in 2007, when the couple became embroiled in a year-long effort to cover up the former U.S. senator's extramarital affair and the pregnancy that resulted from it.

Both Youngs have testified at Edwards' campaign finance corruption trial that the Democratic candidate asked Andrew Young to issue a statement falsely claiming paternity of the child Edwards fathered with his mistress, Rielle Hunter. At the time, Edwards was a top-tier presidential candidate, and it was just weeks away from the crucial Iowa caucuses.

In his cross-examination of Cheri Young, Edwards defense lawyer Alan Duncan suggested the couple made a lot of money from the scandal.

They kept about $1 million secretly provided by two wealthy campaign supporters while the couple helped hide and care for the pregnant mistress. The Youngs also made hundreds of thousands of dollars from Andrew Young's 2010 tell-all book about the affair and by selling the movie rights to their story.

Cheri Young agreed they had made money through the cover-up that she said was initiated by Edwards, her husband's boss.

"Income, yeah, I'll take income," she said. "That's reasonable."

But she also reiterated that Edwards' lies prompted the couple to go public. She said Edwards promised to admit the baby was his after Hunter gave birth in February 2008, but instead he went on national television to lie about the affair, even after tabloid reporters photographed him with the mistress and his baby that summer.

"I came here because I had to come here," said Cheri Young, who testified because of a subpoena. "The only reason my husband had to write the book is because Mr. Edwards did not come forward and tell the truth."

After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter's daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, days before the release of Andrew Young's book in 2010. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six counts related to campaign finance violations. He faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted on all counts.

At issue are payments from a wealthy Texas lawyer, Fred Baron, who served as Edwards' campaign finance chairman, and an elderly heiress, Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

Under cross-examination from Edwards' lawyer this week, Cheri Young rarely gave Duncan an inch, countering his questions with questions of her own or deflecting attempts to impugn her credibility by making statements painting Edwards as the liar.