TODAY   |  May 03, 2012

Edwards’ daughter breaks down in court

In what turned into a dramatic day in court at the John Edwards corruption trial, Edwards’ daughter left the courtroom in tears as testimony turned to her mother’s reaction to her father’s extramarital affair. NBC’s Lisa Myers reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> a dramatic day in court in the trial of former presidential candidate john edwards . on wednesday his daughter left the courtroom in tears as testimony turned to her mother's reaction to her father's affair. nbc's lisa myers is joining us from the courthouse in greensboro, north carolina , once again this morning. hey, lisa, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, ann. this was the most emotional day so far. the day the jury heard about elizabeth edwards ' pain and rage over being betrayed. and the day that edwards ' eldest daughter, cate , could no longer hide the anguish of this very personal family drama . throughout this trial, cate edwards has always been there, by her father's side. she sits right behind him in the courtroom, maintaining her composure during days of embarrassing testimony. but on wednesday, that changed. when the prosecution called christina reynolds , a former campaign staffer and confidante of elizabeth , to testify about elizabeth 's knowledge of her husband's affair. soon after reynolds took the stand, edwards turned to his daughter and said, "i don't know what's coming. do you want to leave?" cate broke down in tears and hurried out of the courtroom as her father called her name.

>> it was probably the most human moment that we've had in this trial and really drove home the human drama , about the human tragedy of what's really happened to the edwards family .

>> reporter: in dramatic testimony, reynolds says elizabeth called her to the edwards home in the summer of 2007 . she told me that mr. edwards had had an affair. and he said it was over. but she believed it was still going on. that october, the first tabloid story about john edwards ' affair appeared. the next day outside a hangar at the raleigh airport , reynolds testified that john and elizabeth edwards fought. "she was very upset. she stormed off and collapsed into a ball in the parking lot." reynolds vividly recounted that a few minutes later, elizabeth confronted john again, screaming, "you don't see me anymore as she tore off her shirt and bra." reynolds said john didn't have much of a reaction but called elizabeth 's doctor and then flew off to a campaign event. some experts say that testimony had nothing to do with the government's charges that edwards accepted illegal campaign contributions which he denies. what is the prosecution's purpose in putting on this witness?

>> i think to dirty up john edwards , to make the jury dislike him, by showing his callous behavior towards his wife. there she is, unable to go on, and yet he gets on a plane and goes on and continues to campaign.

>> reporter: cate had returned to the courtroom when the defense countered by asking about elizabeth 's final days. again, cate wipes away tears as her mother's friend testified that despite all the turmoil and betrayal, john edwards was there attending to elizabeth as she died. ann?