WASHINGTON--Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) fathered a daughter during the 2008 presidential campaign and after denials, admitted on Thursday the child was his and he lied about it.
NBC News Lisa Myers has the scoop in an interview with Edwards longtime political advisor Harrison Hickman and in a written statement from Edwards, who did not appear on camera in her report. Edwards finally admitted he is the father of Frances Quinn Hunter; the product of an affair with Rielle Hunter, a videographer who followed Edwards on the campaign trail.
"I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves... It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me," Edwards said in the statement.
NBC NEWS EXCLUSIVE:
JOHN EDWARDS ADMITS HE IS THE FATHER OF HIS FORMER MISTRESS'S DAUGHTER
NEW YORK - January 21, 2010 - - For the first time, John Edwards is publicly
admitting that he is indeed the father of a 2-year-old daughter conceived with
Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer with whom he had an affair. In a written
statement provided exclusively to NBC News, the former North Carolina senator
and Democratic presidential candidate says he is taking responsibility for the
child, Frances Quinn Hunter. Harrison Hickman, Edwards' close friend and
personal advisor, spoke exclusively to NBC's Lisa Myers on Edwards' behalf.
A full transcript of the interview, which aired this morning on "Today," is
below. If used, please credit NBC News.
Additionally, on Friday "Today" examines the Federal investigation into money
that was used to keep Rielle Hunter out of the public eye. And, Hickman will
speak for the first time about Andrew Young, the former aide who claims Edwards
asked him to cover up the affair.
Below, from NBC NEWS.....
This statement has been months in the making, and confirms what many Americans
have already concluded that at the same time he was running for president, John
Edwards fathered a child. He's now publicly embracing that child for the first
After 2 years of scandal, deception, and betrayal that destroyed his political
career and wrecked his personal life, John Edwards this morning is trying to
right a wrong.
"Are you speaking for the Senator today?"
"I am speaking for the senator to the extent that anyone can, yes."
Harrison Hickman is Edward's longtime close friend and trusted political
adviser, coming forward to help deliver a message about Frances Quinn Hunter,
the child born to Rielle Hunter, with whom Edwards had an affair.
"The Senator wants to say first of all that he is the father of Quinn. Secondly,
he wants people to know that he has provided for her and will continue to
provide for her, as he should, both financially and emotionally."
In a written statement provided exclusively to NBC NEWS, Edwards SAYS: "I am
Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love
and support she deserves... It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter
and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me."
"When he talks about the child, what does he tell you? How does he feel about
"He talks about her being a beautiful child, a happy child. Like any father, he
talks about how it makes him feel when he's around Quinn, which is very happy. I
think he's very proud of this child."
"This child is almost 2 years old. Why did it take so long for the Senator to
acknowledge that he is her father?
"It was a lot more complicated, I think than most people think. There are a lot
of adults involved. And I think they wanted to handle this the right way for
Jack and Emma Claire and Cate, as well as Quinn."
Edwards' attorneys say he's been seeing Quinn and providing financial support
for about a year, and just signed a child support agreement with Hunter. A
spokesman for Elizabeth Today's announcement marks another chapter in the fall
of a man once considered a leading candidate for president. A man whose hubris
and recklessness brought personal destruction.
But when tabloid headlines forced a public admission of the affair with Hunter,
his campaign videographer, in August 2008, he denied Hunter's child was his.
"Did he know at the time that this was his daughter?"
"I do not know if he knew it was his daughter at the time, but I know he lied
when he said it was not possible, ah, and he knows he lied. And, you know, I
think he is certainly regretful for that."
"The Senator also has said that the affair with Rielle Hunter occurred when
Elizabeth's cancer was in remission, however, this child was conceived three
months after Elizabeth announced that her cancer was back and it was incurable."
"You're right. I mean, as he has said, he's been deceitful about it, he's lied
Elizabeth Edwards is still undergoing cancer treatment and makes occasional
public appearances about health care. She opened a furniture shop last summer in
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, not far from the family's mansion.
"How is Elizabeth dealing with this new member of the family?"
"Elizabeth thinks he should acknowledge this. It's been a very difficult time
for everyone, but for Elizabeth I think, more than anyone else, it's been a
Friends say John and Elizabeth Edwards have separated at least for now, but
still talk on a regular basis.
Edwards bought this house for Quinn and her mother to live in, in Charlotte more
than 2 hours away from his home in Chapel Hill, which set the neighborhood
Becca Thompson, Neighbor:
"I haven't heard anybody say, 'oh no,' but it's been like, 'oh gosh,' and then
we thought, 'oh dear,' the press will be here alot."
John Edwards now tries to stay out of the public spotlight. He spends time at
his beach house and went to El Salvador 3 times last year, to help build houses
for the poor.
"He's done good old-fashioned work. He's helped build hospitals, schools."
In his statement, Edwards said: "To all those I have disappointed and hurt,
these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry."
"He knows saying he's sorry isn't enough, but he is incredibly remorseful about
the pain he's caused people. He wants to be a good father and, you know, be a
good person again."
Lisa Myers: Edwards isn't speaking publicly today, at least in part, because of
an ongoing federal investigation into whether campaign money was used to try to
cover up the affair. He has denied wrongdoing.
Tomorrow, we'll take a look at that investigation and at the former aide who now
claims to have been at the center of that cover-up.