May 11th, 2009
05:34 PM ET
14 years ago

Trippi refutes claim Edwards staffers knew of affair

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Trippi was a former senior adviser to Edwards' campaign."](CNN) - Joe Trippi, a former top aide to John Edwards, is sharply refuting a report a handful of campaign staffers knew about the former presidential candidate's affair and had plans to sabotage his White House bid, telling CNN Monday the claim is "complete bull s**t."

"No one that I know had such a plan, I wasn't involved in a plan like that, it didn't exist, it's a fantasy," Trippi said in a phone interview.

Trippi, a close advisor to Edwards during his Democratic presidential primary bid, also said if any campaign staffer actually knew the affair was true they were "not only malpracticing John Edwards but the country as well by not doing the right thing, going to him, and telling him he had to leave the race."

The comments come a day after ABC News reported several Edwards campaign staffers "in the inner circle" began to believe rumors of an affair were true in late 2007. According to the story, the group had devised a "doomsday" strategy to sabotage the campaign if Edwards looked as if he would win the Democratic nomination.

But Trippi, who worked closely with Edwards' most senior advisors, including Campaign Manager David Bonior and Deputy Campaign manager Jonathan Prince, suggested he would have been aware of a plan if one existed.

"I don't think there was an hour Prince wasn't with me," he said, adding later, "I can't conceive of how it was possible that if someone had a secret plan I wasn't aware of it."

In reality, Trippi said, Edwards' senior advisers immediately discounted the rumors, first reported by the National Enquirer in the fall of 2007, and never raised the possibility they might be true.

"We were thinking there is no way in hell he would do this to Elizabeth," Trippi said. We were thinking how could the National Enquirer do this to her, when she has terminal cancer and tries to make a difference by helping her husband run for president."

Edwards came in second in the Iowa caucuses on January 3, 2008, behind Barack Obama but slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton in the state delegate vote count. But five days later he finished a distant third in the New Hampshire primary. Edwards gave up his bid for the White House on January 30, the day after a disappointing third place finish in the South Carolina primary.

Programming Note: Watch Elizabeth Edwards' exclusive interview on CNN's Larry King Live at 9 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday night.

Filed under: John Edwards
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. yuri

    Poor JE 's political career is in jeopardy and to take jabs at his handsome figure is like usin' a punchin' bag at the moment. We think he asked for it and he got it on a silver platter.

    May 11, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. S Callahan

    If Edwards was running today, this would be a story.... I don't see the relevance in it today unless CNN is aware of a potential run for office by Edwards. At this point...For goodness sake...give it a break for the sake of his children and wife.
    He was wrong...he sought forgiveness from the only person it matters to on earth.....enough.

    May 11, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. karuna

    Trippi and all should stop all this nonsense and denials! Of course, staff who are there by Edwards, day and night are aware of what was going on – so stop lying all you humbugs!! Elizabeth, in her desire to damage Reille, is doing herself, her family and everyone a disservice by coming out with her attacks and unjustified support of that bugger of her husband who deserves to be thrown out the door. The Edwards family is now more of a laughing stock than Blago and Burris, so take that!

    May 11, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Lynn

    I am a Democrat but this whole Edwards soap opera is getting as pathetic as the Palin saga.

    The Edwards need to realize their lives in politics is over, think of their children and use their money and clout to work on worthy causes.

    May 11, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Carolina gal

    I'm glad to see that people of integrity won't put up with cheating husbands for Presidents. Any man who thinks he can get away with it is just not thinking clearly – another reason we don't need him as a Prez.. John Edwards obviously shot himself in the foot with that little trick!

    May 11, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. joann

    I think we have all figured out that Mr. Edwards is a great big liar, so this should come as no surprise.

    May 11, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. J.

    May 11, 2009

    Mr. Trippi is a gracious man and has courage when he speaks about the need for privacy and truth concerning Sen. Edwards and his unfortunate political and personal problems. I admire his honesty, and look forward to reading about his work among the Democrats in the future.

    California, USA

    May 11, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Debby

    Who cares about both the Edwards and their marital affairs. I still say the wife is trying to cash in by writing her stupid book.

    May 11, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. KJL

    Elizabeth Edwards wanted to be First Lady more than she wanted a faithful husband. John Edwards was willing to sink his entire party to secure the nomination. A fine pair.

    May 11, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Eric

    Joe Trippi claims that none of the Edwards campaign staffers knew, and then he wonders why we think political operatives are liars!

    May 11, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  11. David Newport, OR

    Let's see...on one hand you have a woman who has already been disgraced by her husband who has nothing to gain from telling the truth and on the other hand a career politician. Yet see the vitriol someone gets if they tell the truth?

    Here is the way it works. An event occurs in a room of 40 people. Immediately after the event, all 40 people are isolated and asked to describe the event. You get 40 different stories...each very truthful to the person giving it. Yet, there can't be 40 truths...only one...yet to each person, they are telling the truth.

    May 11, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  12. Moderate Democrat

    David May 11th, 2009 2:36 pm ET

    I was saddened to hear about this whole affair business as it really ruined John Edwards' name after he did so much to contribute to the Democrat primaries. Specifically, he advocated for helping the poor of the world, and he made the other candidates take this issue very seriously. I think the U.S. should do more to address global poverty for strategic and humanitarian reasons. The Borgen Project has good info on the estimated cost of ending global poverty:

    $30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.

    $550 billion: U.S. Defense budget.
    Please include the defense budget for ALL countries...because unlike our OWN defense, the WORLDS hunger is not OUR problem alone.

    The US is the BIGGEST contributor to WORLD Hunger there is, so give credit where credit is due, and don't ride US on not giving enough when we give more then any other country. Our defense is a must, as is the support to our OWN people in OUR borders.

    Yes, I'm a MODERATE Democrat. We need the defense and to take care of OUR people. Not the world.

    May 11, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The media is turning this story into a big soap opera.

    May 11, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. Sue

    WOW – and these were his "best of the best" comrades???? Such a wonderful, intelligent GANG!!!!

    May 11, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. bub

    Who cares? This country needs to focus on real issues facing it and let John and Elizabeth slip back into obscurity.

    May 11, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. JB

    If, as a senior advisor to the campaign, he heard these rumors and didn't follow up, he's the one who committed malpractice. He's either lying or he's terrible at his job.

    May 11, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. kurdt

    Who cares? We have other things to worry about. The media is dead from the neck up.

    May 11, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Steve, Columbia SC

    And none of them had the intelligence to ask Mr. Edwards if the rumors were true......................incredible.

    May 11, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. JB

    If, as a senior advisor to the campaign, Trippi heard these rumors and didn't follow up, he's the one who committed malpractice. He's either lying or he's terrible at his job.

    May 11, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Simmy

    Edwards' fate rests with God, his judge......I would respectfully ask that you who have no lives, go and buy one......This is not a first.....His wife is more of a turn off to me than he is.......I think this is her final tour.....She should have titled it; "The Big Payback."......I don't see them staying together very much longer......

    May 11, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    As Cokie Roberts said of John Edwards yesterday, "The arrogance– ugh!"

    May 11, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Robin

    If Elizabeth wants to be left alone, why did she write a book about it?
    For the almighty dollar.

    Plus she knows that John could end up in prison and she could die in a few years. Those kids will still need to be taken care of.

    May 11, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. Paul

    Just mind your own business and let people live their lives,

    after all, who is so perfect to be pointing the finger at other human beings just like any of us... We are not God.. end of the story!!!


    May 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Polly

    Someone at The Enquirer didn't like seeing him hiding out in a hotel with another woman while his wife battled cancer. Don't blame them for not wanting him to run as President.

    May 11, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. JonDie

    John Edwards is about as relevant as Rod Blagojevich or Elliot Spitzer. Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich are (as hard as it is to believe) more relevant than John Edwards. Shoot, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears are more relevant than John Edwards.

    May 11, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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