Elizabeth Edwards’ “Devastating Act of Ultimate Revenge”

Elizabeth Edwards

According to the National Enquirer, which originally broke the story of John Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter and that he was the father of her child now claims that Elizabeth Edwards secretly recorded a video that she believed would incriminate him.

“Elizabeth wanted to exact revenge against John for destroy­ing their 33-year marriage and family by cheating with Rielle,” source close to the scandal told ENQUIRER.

“It was Elizabeth’s idea to secret­ly record a video and tell what knew of the affair and John’s horrific betrayal.”

Before her death in December 2010 at age 61, Elizabeth got newly engaged daughter Cate, 29, to agree that if anything happened to John, she would take care of the youngsters with the help of relatives and friends.

“It was then – without Cate’s knowledge – that Elizabeth turned the video camera on herself. She passed the video to a close friend and asked that it be sent to prosecutors,” said the source.

If the Enquirer hadn’t already proved itself to be accurate about this story several times in the past, I wouldn’t believe it. If this is true, it says a lot about Elizabeth’s strength of will and determination. Talk about a “steel magnolia!”

46 Comments on “Elizabeth Edwards’ “Devastating Act of Ultimate Revenge””

  1. bostonboomer says:

    On Twitter, Ben Smith of Politico asked a lawyer, Chris Ashby, if such a tape could be admitted in court. He didn’t think so.

    ashbylaw Chris Ashby
    @ @benpolitico Probably not. The tape’s probative value would be far outweighed by prejudicial effect. Federal Rule of Evidence 403.

    Could it be a dying declaration?

    ashbylaw Chris Ashby
    @ @benpolitico Not an FRE 804(b)(2) dying declaration b/c tape does not concern cause/circumstances of death.

    • dakinikat says:

      fascinating … hell hath no fury

    • Jadzia says:

      IMHO absolutely not admissible. But interesting. And even if it is not admissible in court, perhaps the contents will lead to the discovery of evidence that IS admissible.

    • Dario says:

      I’m glad that such a tape would not be admitted. Elizabeth lost my respect when she took no responsibility for what happened with her marriage, but if true about the video, she was a pool of venom.

      • bostonboomer says:

        What? You’re saying Elizabeth was responsible for John cheating? Give me a break!

      • Seriously says:

        For refusing to fall on her sword for her law breaking husband? She’s not his Mommy, and if anyone’s behavior revealed deep-seated contempt, it’s his. She didn’t frame him, all she did (if this is true, which I doubt and either way it’s characterized by tabloid spin) is tell the truth. He dragged her into this, and she’s entitled to tell her story without being obligated to lie and conceal and fabricate to protect him.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The New York Post consulted a lawyer who also said the video could not be admitted.

    New York defense lawyer Gerald Lefcourt told The Post the tape could not be used at trial, because John would be unable to confront Elizabeth on the truth of her testimony.

    Of course that doesn’t mean the DOJ couldn’t investigate any tips they got from her statement.

    • okasha says:

      They could certainly investigate the contents of the tape, and use any witnesses that investigation turned up.

  3. Allison says:

    The thing that disturbs me about Elizabeth Edwards is how long she stood beside her husband knowing what was going on. I may have the timing of all this wrong – but by staying in the race, John Edwards drained support that might otherwise have gone to HRC. It was all very calculated – he was playing for some appointment in a BHO administration. How much did Elizabeth know and when?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t know when she found out for sure. I didn’t follow the story very closely.

    • Pilgrim says:

      Allison, I had much the same concern that you express above. She seemed to be willing to conceal what she knew about John in order to defeat Hillary and get him to White House or BHO appointment.

    • Seriously says:

      I don’t want to judge her, but yeah, that’s what makes me doubt the veracity of The Enquirer’s story. Good for her if she made the video, but presumably she knew about the entire situation for ages, so why get so upset and determined all of a sudden? He’s her husband and she’s entitled to feel however she wants about it, but in the absense of any precipitating event, not sure she’d do such a 180.

  4. Allison says:

    Jadzia – I agree – I have no sympathy whatsoever for John Edwards. I actually initially supported the guy – I fell for the email solicitation for a donation to help him with his video and sent $25 (ARRRRGHHHHH). What an idiot I was…I hope he goes to jail for that, too.

  5. Dario says:

    I’m sorry to disagree that Elizabeth showed strength with her vindictiveness. Not that I care what happens to John, but whenever I see a vindictive streak, I think of the play, The Merchant of Venice. There’s nothing admirable about vindictiveness.

    • grayslady says:

      I agree, Dario. The more I learned about Elizabeth Edwards, the more self-centered and emotionally unstable I thought her to be. She had my pity, but a lot of things just didn’t seem right–like coming out in favor of Obamacare instead of UHC, then writing a second book about herself. There are possibly justifications for all my misgivings, but something just didn’t sit right over time. Now, with this news of the tape, the stories about her vindictiveness seem credible. I can’t imagine creating something that might destroy your children’s peace of mind, even if it was intended to destroy her ex-husband.

      • okasha says:

        On the contrary, she seems to have waited until she knew her children would be provided for without John.

        Nor is there any way to know what effect this will have on her children. They may already know. And I’d say Johnny-boy has likely wrecked their peace pretty thoroughly already.

      • Inky says:

        Okasha, you honestly think that if reports are true and Elizabeth wanted to destroy John and have him sent to prison, that having their father behind bars, a broken man, would not have had an impact on his children’s peace of mind? And if it’s also true that Elizabeth secured Cate’s pledge that she would take care of the children if John were not around and then secretly made the tape without her daughter’s knowledge, wouldn’t you consider that a violation of her relationship with her daughter? I was once as big an Elizabeth Edwards fan as they come, and it saddens me to think that she might have done her own reputation, not to mention the well-being of her family, such damage with her vindictiveness at the end of her life.

        With or without infidelity, marriages fall apart. John Edwards certainly had feet of clay, as Oscar Madison’s secretary would say, but he is just a human with extremely human failings. I agree with grayslady–when the whisperings about Elizabeth’s mean side came out in the press, at first I thought that was just another example of the pervasive misogyny of the press corps. Now I sadly may have to acknowledge that there might have been some truth to all that.

      • Seriously says:

        If he ends up in jail, it’ll be because a) he broke the law and b) he’s too damn arrogant and entitled to just take the slap on the wrist plea bargain they’re offering him. None of that is Elizabeth’s fault, and we don’t know what will affect the kids’ peace of mind. I don’t want my father to go to jail, but I also don’t want him to be able to break whatever laws he wants and put the blame on the people who tell the truth and don’t cover it up.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I wasn’t expressing approval of what she did when I said this shows her strength of will and determination. But anyone who can do something like that when she is on her death bed is extremely determined and has a strong will–whether it was in aid of something positive or negative.

    • okasha says:

      @Inky: Let’s get something straight, here.

      John destroyed John. John was unfaithful. John was careless enough to have a child with his mistress and then stupid enough to try to deny paternity. John was stupid enough to tape sex with the mistress. John was stupid (gee, that word does keep coming up, doesn’t it?) and dishonest when he illegally diverted campaign funds.

      Don’t you think that perhaps his children were already just a taddy bit upset with him before Elizabeth made the tape?

  6. paper doll says:

    Breaking : The Edwards are/were human

  7. GOOD FOR HER !!!!!

  8. Dario says:

    I come from a broken home. As I grew older I understand that whatever happens in a marriage, it’s the couple’s issues, not the children. Unfortunately, parents feel they have a duty to bring their fight into the children’s psyche, and that seems to me what Elizabeth did. Those children have a father, and I suspect down the road they will reconcile with the father, and the loser will be the memory the children have of Elizabeth. The relationship with the father should be fostered, not attacked.

    Anyway, as I said, I don’t care what happens to John, but I know enough about marriage to know that most cheating is the result of a bad marriage that’s held together for the wrong reasons. BB assumes that because I don’t consider John 100 percent responsible, somehow I’m making Elizabeth 100 percent responsible for John’s cheating. John cheated because he found something in Holly that Elizabeth did not provide because she didn’t want to or couldn’t. The reason doesn’t matter. The marriage was finished probably before Holly came into the picture.

    • Seriously says:

      Who says she did that? In fact she’s being criticized for leaving her older daughter out of her personal issues with her husband. If she brought her into the loop of what she was doing, she’d be accused of trying to poison her daughter against him. Now she’s being accused of that anyway. He’s an adult, and it’s his responsibility to foster his relationship with his kids, not hers. Her relationship with him is separate. She’s not attacking their relationship, but nor is it her responsibility to explain or justify his behavior or
      cover up the evidence of his law breaking. All of this public scrutiny could be avoided if he’d take the plea bargain, but he’s determined to drag it all up in public, which will probably humiliate his
      family a great deal. He won’t be deprived of having his say, so that means he’s selfish and his family will never reconcile with him? She’s been put in a horrible position by him where her integrity’s been called into question by everyone on all sides in the midst of all of this potentially illegal and certainly shady behavior, and she’s entitled to set the record straight and say whatever she feels needs to be said. He doesn’t get to write her version for her.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Excellent points, Seriously. Cate is also an adult and can decide for herself how she feels about her parents’ actions.

    • Seriously says:

      And you know, we are talking about a guy who has refused to acknowledge one of his kids and has made decisions on who’s in and out of his family for political expediency. I’m sure his wife’s probably responsible for that too as she seems to be for most of his behavior, but it does seem like if the kids have issues with him, maternal brainwashing may not be 100% to blame.

    • dakinikat says:

      A bad marriage does not excuse a person’s bad behavior. It wasn’t just between him and Elizabeth. His venture into self-destruction, betrayal, illegal activities and stupidity impacted every one including his staff and his children. If he wasn’t getting what he needed out of the marriage he should’ve left the marriage. He used all these people to cover up his bad behavior so he could continue to run for office. He didn’t just betray Elizabeth. He betrayed his children and the people who believed in him enough to support his campaign and work for him.

      Look at the Schwarzenegger children. Even the sons are dropping their father’s name. He betrayed more than his marriage vows when he fathered a child and kept it from the entire family. Having a parent with tremendous judgement issues and obvious self-control issues makes children victims. There’s absolutely nothing positive about an in-tact family when one of the people is self-destructing and taking every one else down with them; including their children. He did hurt the kids as well as Elizabeth. How will that little girl he denied parenting feel about him when she sees him deny her and know that he went to elaborate measures to keep her away from his life?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Well said. ITA.

      • okasha says:


        John Edwards is not a victim.

      • Inky says:

        Wait just a second–what’s all this B.S. about him denying his daughter? As soon as he acknowledged his paternity, which I agree was far too long after the event, he embraced his daughter, brought his parents in contact with the daughter, acknowledged the hurtfulness of his actions and said that he wanted to do everything possible to be a good father for all of his children. Why are both you and Seriously acting as if he is still denying her? It seems to me that he is trying to atone for the horrible mistakes he’s made as best he can.

        As someone who gave $600 to his campaign before giving another $600 to Hillary’s campaign (and I am far from financially comfortable), I am more upset than most about Edwards’ reckless actions as a presidential candidate. I should have been more keen to the signs of his narcissism, etc., when he was a candidate, but I liked his policy positions better than either Obama’s or Hillary’s at the time. Of course he hurt many people with his actions, but it remains to be seen whether he personally engaged in illegal activities, or whether the “hush money” for his mistress was given without his active consent and participation. I also feel that he has paid sufficiently for his mistakes, having completely destroyed his career, reputation, and standing in the community, having destroyed his marriage to Elizabeth in a way that makes him extremely easy to vilify, and having done considerable harm to his relationship with his children. But others are certainly free to feel differently about whether he should do prison time, as many here do.

        But I have noticed that Cate has chosen to stick close by her father after Elizabeth’s death and that she pointedly said in her eulogy to her mother, “One thing remains true and will never change, which is that we’re still a family.” I can’t imagine that she would have approved of Elizabeth’s desire to wreak revenge on John with her videotape.

        • dakinikat says:

          How long did it take him to ‘acknowledge’ paternity? Please. She’s going to see those interviews eventually. He’s not denying her now, of course, because he’s got nothing to lose. He’s lost it all. I don’t see this as much as revenge as it is setting the record straight. He’s responsible for his relationship with the children, not Elizabeth. I’m not vilifying him. He’s just another caddish man with a public midlife crisis that hurt a lot of people. Pol Pot is a villain. John Edwards is an idiot. He’s the only one that can make any of it right with any one. I’m just really tired of people that blame wives for stuff their husband’s do … women are not appendages to men.

      • Inky says:

        Actually, he acknowledged his daughter 18 months ago, well before his present legal troubles.


      • dakinikat says:

        It wasn’t the legal troubles that he was trying to avoid when he said he didn’t parent the child and asked his aid to take the rap.

      • Inky says:

        By the way, did I ever blame Elizabeth for John’s mistakes? I merely expressed sadness that she chose to commit an act of vindictiveness during her final time on earth. I also noted that it caused me to reassess some of the unflattering press stories I’d read about her.

        As Beata noted, children of divorce are usually pretty sharp and can figure out for themselves who committed the real damage to the family. The fact that Cate still supports her father indicates to me that she accepts and has forgiven him his failings–whatever you or I think be damned. She wants the family to remain strong and together, and I hope she gets her way.

      • dakinikat says:

        No, you didn’t say it was Elizabeth’s fault … Dario implied that. My original response was to him and those implications. Besides, it’s the National Enquirer calling it “revenge”. One person’s pursuit of justice is another person’s implied act of revenge. I don’t blame her for wanting to testify because since she’s dead she could be blamed for a lot and I’m just assuming she wanted to make certain the record was straight. If he’s been a worthwhile father, Elizabeth’s actions shouldn’t harm the children. I can hardly blame her for not wanting to leave her children to a ditz like Rielle Hunter. My ex’s new wife is a monster and it impacted my children more than our divorce did.

      • Seriously says:

        Inky, we’re aware that he finally acknowledged her after he was caught out and lost the WH, which would have delayed that event somewhere between 4 years and forever. We’re not implying he’s *still* embracing his role as Deadbeat Dad. However, everybody’s blaming EE for not caring about her kids’ piece of mind, and some for poisoning their relationship with their father. My point is that he’s wronged his children as well as EE. I really think there’s a good possibility that on top of the humiliation he’s brought and continues to bring them, the kids could face rejection issues over watching their father publicly reject and deny his daughter and get caught up in a conspiracy to conceal her. Don’t see how that could make them secure about their own place in the family for the little ones. They have plenty of reasons to be upset and angry with him for their own sake apart from their how he treated their mother. So maybe some of the responsibility is his. If she’s mean I’m not sure it can be said that his behavior was well intentioned, unselfish, charitable, and non-malicious. You’re entitled to feel however you want, but if all his actions are human and excusable, I personally really, really think her trying to clear the air after she’s been cast in the Lady MacBeth, she condoned/initiated/participated every sordid act of his right by his side narrative that’s been going around since this mess began is at least as much. She has been cast as either the villain or equally as culpable to him by everyone on all sides for years, and she’s entitled to set the record straight. There’s no way of knowing if her kids have a problem with that, and if they do but they can forgive their father for all his many transgressions they should probably try to show the same degree of understanding to both.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Dario–I don’t assume any such thing, and I resent you trying to read my mind.

      • Dario says:

        What? You’re saying Elizabeth was responsible for John cheating? Give me a break!

        Your answer to my post, quoted above, is what led me to believe your thinking. If I was wrong, I apologize. I think we can put the E.Edwards discussion behind us. The problems of the Edwards manifested in different ways. Each had, like most of us, weaknesses made apparent by their actions.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I didn’t assume you believed she was completely responsible for John’s behavior. That would mean that I have a low opinion of you, and I definitely don’t. I just disagree with you on this particular issue.

  9. Beata says:

    If it is true that Elizabeth Edwards made this tape, I consider it an act of justice, not revenge. And for the record, I come from a “broken home” as well. Children of divorce are usually pretty sharp, even at a young age. They will figure out for themselves who committed the real damage to the family. And I am betting they will not blame Elizabeth.

  10. alibe50 says:

    I do remember that Elizabeth was NOT with John Edwards when he gave his endorsement of BHO. There was speculation about Elizabeth’s support of BHO. That maybe she was a Hillary supporter and that was why she was not with John when he gave the BHO endorsement speech. There was an unusual messing around at that time, if I remember correctly.