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Video: Edwards’ former mistress breaks silence

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    >>> let's begin with rielle hunter, former mistress of john edwards . she is telling her side of the story to " gq ." lisa myers has more. good morning to you.

    >> good morning, matt. almost after four years of silence, rielle hunter has a great deal to say about the man she calls johnny and about elizabeth edwards . in fact, she claims that most of john edwards ' mistakes were because he feared the wrath of elizabeth . this is rielle hunter today. posing for " gq " magazines, at times provocative photo spread with children's toys and with her and john edwards ' daughter, 2-year-old frances quinn, telling the magazine i love johnny and i love my daughter more than anything in the world. she says john edwards was involved with other women outside his marriage before her, but their relationship, a special connection. i never hit on johnny , she says. i'm not a predator. i'm not a gold digger. i'm not the stalker. she adds that edwards told her the first night, falling in love with you could really expletive up my plans for becoming president. hunter says she bought john edwards a secret black cell phone that looked exactly like his campaign phone. so, he could call her without drawing attention. a suspicious elizabeth found this phone and called the last number dialed. and i answered the phone and said, hey, baby. and click. she says elizabeth then confronted her husband and he confessed.

    >> i only knew about a single night, a single moment of weakness.

    >> but hunter says john edwards never told his wife it was a one- night stand . who has a cell phone for a one- night stand ? hunter says she did not think john edwards should be running for president and was shocked when he decided to stay in the race after elizabeth 's breast cancer returned.

    >> the campaign goes on. the campaign goes on strongly.

    >> i really viewed it as reckless. and what's interesting is that she wanted to stay in. that's the key. he wanted to get out. and she wanted to stay in. in fact, while claiming to have compassion for elizabeth , hunter charges that she emasculated her husband. most of his mistakes or errors in judgment were because of his fear of the wrath of elizabeth . he's allowed himself to be pushed into a lot of things that he wouldn't normally do because of elizabeth 's story line , the wrath of elizabeth is a mighty wrath . not surprisingly, hunter vigorously disputes many of the claims of this man, edwards' former aide, andrew young . they're doing battle over who owns that infamous sex tape with hunter with john edwards . john and elizabeth edwards separated a couple of months ago. hunter deflected questions about whether she now hopes for a fairy tale ending. asked to describe her current relationship with john edwards , hunter replied, private. matt?

    >> lisa myers . lisa , thank you as always. lisa depalo interviewed hunter for the issue of " gq ."

    >> morning, matt.

    >> let me start with andrew young . you actually worked for andrew young as a writer for a short period of time.

    >> actually, not really. he approached me to write his book but never hired me.

    >> did you ever participate in the process at all?

    >> he never hired me.

    >> you had nothing to do with that?

    >> no, but i'm glad he put this out there because i'm bound by confidentiality.

    >> so, you didn't share anything with both sides in this?

    >> no.

    >> how does johnny , as she refers to him, rielle refers to john edwards , feels about her doing this interview?

    >> she said he was fine with it, that he thought she should talk if she wanted to and she also claims that he never told her not to talk to the press.

    >> why do you think she is sharing the story? she goes out of her way to say, look, i'm not getting paid for this. i didn't cash in on this, as some other people may have done. so, why is she talking now?

    >> i think, you know, it's been several years of people defining her. and what was interesting to me when we first started talking was rielle really wanted to put the whole story out there. she wanted an expansive interview. she kept saying she wanted her words to be her words, unspun, unfiltered. i think she cared very much about putting her truth out there.

    >> after talking to her, lisa , do you get the sense she truly grasps what this incident, whether it's ongoing or not, has meant to the lives of so many people?

    >> yes, but i think she is very forgiving of him in many ways. she believes that he was traumatized and that was why he handled things a certain way.

    >> traumatized by?

    >> by the situation he was in, that suddenly his life had been, you know, exposed, the reality of his life had been exposed.

    >> right.

    >> but it's interesting, because she talks about her unconditional love for him.

    >> she also talks about the relationship in the present.

    >> yeah. always.

    >> it's not like that relationship that occurred. it's the relationship that is, which raises the question, what is the relationship right now?

    >> i think the short answer is they're together, but i think it depends on how you define together. i don't know that it's a conventional together. but she talks about the fact that she loves him very much. they love each other very much.

    >> she says i do know that i love him and love is till death do us part . though when you ask her if there is going to be a fairy tale ending, be the response is, i want whatever life brings me.

    >> right, right. when i asked her, do you think you'll live happily ever after with him, she said i don't know. i don't think she does know.

    >> you mention this unconditional love that she seems to have for him. when you pressed her, and you did, and said but he lied to a lot of people.

    >> right.

    >> do you view him as a liar? how did she respond to that?

    >> she said he doesn't lie to me. she believes that he has never lied to her and never will.

    >> and even you said, but a lot of people in this country think he's one of the most untruthful people he is.

    >> correct.

    >> it didn't seem to faze her or her feelings to him.

    >> no. she said i know him and he doesn't lie to me.

    >> on the side of elizabeth edwards , this will get people pretty upset. she says the wrath of elizabeth is a mighty wrath . does she go on to say boy, i deserve it? i deserve a portion of that wrath ?

    >> no. one thing that's interesting about her, she didn't whitewash anything. what she said about elizabeth , that's what she believes. she had ample opportunity to spin that a little differently, but no, she is unapologetic.

    >> is there some remorse at all about the fact that this incident occurred during an enormously trying time in elizabeth 's life as well, with her health concerns?

    >> what she said was that infidelity was something that she had a lot of judgment about before this happened and that she fell madly in love with him and that overrode any of those feel i feelings she had.

    >> she talks about a toxic relationship, the marriage between john and elizabeth .

    >> right, and he's not the first married man that, you know, talked about his wife on the first night.

    >> john, she admits, is helping her financially.

    >> yes.

    >> we know that. that's been reported.

    >> it has been.

    >> that's for child support . she's going to have to work at some point.

    >> right.

    >> does she give you any indication what she plans on doing, what she would like to do?

    >> she loves documentaries. that's how this whole -- the videographer thing happened. she's been a writer, an actress. i think she could do a lot of different things. she has not made a decision about that, though.

    >> you met quinn.

    >> i did.

    >> the 2-year-old daughter. they've been living a kind of circus existence behind the cloak with paparazzi. is there anything normal about their lives right now?

    >> it was the strangest thing to be interview iing her with a tripod and a lens in the window, where you would constantly be closing the drapes, closing the shutters. i don't know how she lives that way and it's nonstop.

    >> is it possible by giving this interview she hopes to --

    >> yes.

    >> -- put a pin in the balloon and let some of the hot air out so her life can go back to normal?

    >> absolutely. i think she very much wants to get on with her life and wants -- that's one of the reasons she wanted to answer every question. there were no conditions or nothing off limits. and i think that's part of the reason why. now, will "the national enquirer " say thank you, rielle, now we're going to leave? probably not. but i think that is her wish.

    >> fascinating interview. lisa depaulo, thank you for sharing it with us.

    >> thank you.

    >> it hits stands nationwide next

TODAY contributor
updated 3/19/2010 9:01:49 PM ET 2010-03-20T01:01:49

It was lust at first sight. She was 42 and divorced. He was 10 years her senior and a United States senator from North Carolina.

“You’re so hot,” the sexy blonde told the handsome politician the day they met on the corner of 61st and Park Avenue in New York City.

“Why, thank you,” he replied.

Within hours of that February 2006 meeting, according to Rielle Hunter, the affair between her and presidential candidate John Edwards had begun.

“Falling in love with you could really f--- up my plans for becoming president,” he told her.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,” she replied.

The affair, initially denied by Edwards, resulted in the February 2008 birth of a daughter, Frances Quinn, and ended Edwards’ political career.

Breaking her silence
Since the affair was revealed by The National Enquirer in July 2008, Edwards has talked about it. His estranged wife, cancer-stricken Elizabeth Edwards, has written about it. Even Andrew Young, the campaign aide who initially claimed paternity of Frances Quinn in an effort to protect Edwards’ presidential candidacy, has had his say. Through it all, Hunter remained silent.

Now, Hunter is finally giving her side of the story in a 10,000-word Q & A interview with writer Lisa DePaulo in the current issue of GQ magazine. Most of the interview took place in Hunter’s rented North Carolina home over two days in January.

First things first: DePaulo reports that Frances Quinn “looks exactly like John Edwards.” And, while she could have sold the story for big bucks, Hunter is not making any money from the GQ story.

DePaulo told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Monday in New York that she feels Hunter simply wants to tell her own story in her own words.

“It’s been several years of people defining her. Rielle really wanted to put the whole story out of there. She wanted her words to be her words, unspun, unfiltered,” DePaulo said.

‘I know he loves me’
In addition to giving the interview to GQ, Hunter also posed for pictures, including several sultry poses on a bed as well as a picture of her with her 2-year-old daughter. But on “the View” Monday, Barbara Walters said that the 45-year-old Hunter had told her that morning that she found the photos “repulsive” and “cried for two hours” upon seeing them. During the shoot, “I went with the flow,” Walters said Hunter told her.

As for the interview, DePaulo started it by asking Hunter why she has waited so long to finally give her side of the story that ended a political career.

Rielle Hunter poses with Frances Quinn, her daughter fathered by John Edwards, in GQ magazine.
“I feel comfortable talking now, because Johnny went public and made a statement admitting paternity. I didn't feel like I could ever speak until he did that. Because had I spoken, I would have emasculated him. And I could not emasculate him,” Hunter said.

And, yes, Hunter calls Edwards “Johnny.”

“When I first met him, the first week of our relationship, I said to him, ‘For some reason I cannot call you John, it doesn’t come out. Could I call you Johnny?’ And he said, ‘That’s my name.’ And I didn’t know that, but that’s his actual birth name,” Hunter told DePaulo.

Hunter told GQ that she and Edwards, who is now separated from his wife, are still in love.

“I know he loves me. I have never had any doubt at all about that,” she told DePaulo. “We love each other very much. And that hasn’t changed, and I believe that will be till death do us part. The love doesn’t go away. It’s unconditional. It’s unconditional on my part, but our connection is profound. There’s a lot of passion there.”

In her GQ interview, Rielle Hunter says of her affair with John Edwards: “We love each other very much, and that hasn’t changed.”
DePaulo told Lauer that the relationship between Edwards and Hunter is continuing but defies easy description.

“I think the short answer is, they’re together,” DePaulo told Lauer. “It depends how you define ‘together.’ It’s not a conventional together.”

‘The wrath of Elizabeth’
The public narrative equates the affair with Edwards’ fall from grace. Hunter told GQ that’s totally wrong.

“In reality, he’s fallen to grace,” Hunter said. “He is integrated. He is living a life of truth. He has grown in awareness and humility.”

Edwards was painted as a liar and a coward for not admitting to the affair and then getting his aide, Andrew Young, to claim that he was Frances Quinn’s father in an effort to protect Edwards’ fading candidacy.

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DePaulo said that Hunter believes Edwards has been totally honest with her. “She said, ‘I know him and he doesn’t lie to me,’ ” DePaulo told Lauer.

Video: John Edwards admits fathering Hunter’s child Hunter blames Elizabeth Edwards for the mistakes Edwards made in handling the affair.

“Most of his mistakes or errors in judgment were because of his fear of the wrath of Elizabeth,” she said in the GQ interview. “He’s allowed himself to be pushed into a lot of things that he wouldn’t normally do because of Elizabeth’s story line. And the spin that she wants to put out there. He was emasculated. And you know, the wrath of Elizabeth is a mighty wrath.”

Hunter said in the interview that Edwards wanted to abandon his presidential run, but Elizabeth wanted him to stay in: “I really viewed it as reckless,” Hunter commented. Hunter said that John and Elizabeth Edwards’ marriage “was a toxic relationship.”

‘He’s a great father’
Edwards initially wanted Hunter to abort their baby, she says in the interview. She refused, and he has become an involved and loving father, Hunter said.

“He’s a great father. Once Johnny and Elizabeth separated, we were able to move forward quite quickly. And it has to do with him not hiding in order to see his daughter. He very much wants to be in her life full-time, and he doesn’t Video: Elizabeth Edwards ‘disgusted’ by photos want to hide,” she said in the interview.

Hunter has been an actress and a writer, but most enjoys making documentary videos, DePaulo said. It was as a documentarian that she originally joined the Edwards campaign. DePaulo told Lauer she feels Hunter wants to move on now that she’s told her side of the story.

“I think she very much wants to get on with her life, and that’s one of the reasons she wanted to answer every question,” DePaulo said.

While Hunter hopes to move on, DePaulo said, a paparazzo with a camera on a tripod stakes out her rented home in North Carolina. When he shows up, local police chase him away. Then he comes back. DePaulo doubted that Hunter’s interview will satisfy the tabloids.

“Will The National Enquirer say, ‘Well, thank you, Rielle, now we’re going to leave?’ ” DePaulo asked rhetorically. “I think not.”

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