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John Edwards trial: Judge says witness and confidant Andrew Young acted improperly

Edwards is accused of accepting more than $900,000 in illegal contributions to help hide an affair during his 2008 run for president.

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Former US senator John Edwards arrives at a memorial service for U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in August 2009 in Boston. (Chris Hondros/AFP/Getty Images)

Senator John Edwards' criminal trial began on Monday with prosecutors arguing he knew about $900,000 in illegal contributions from two wealthy donors, the New York Times reported.

On the first day of the trial, Edwards sat silently in the courtroom as prosecutors accused him of violating campaign finance laws in order use the money to hide his affair Rielle Hunter during his 2008 presidential bid, the Associated Press reported.

Edwards’ wife was battling cancer at the time.

"It wasn't just a marriage on the line," prosecutor David Harbach said, the AP wrote. "If the affair went public it would destroy his chance of becoming president, and he knew it. ...He made a choice to break the law."

A jury of nine men and seven women was selected before opening arguments.

Meanwhile, US District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles said that former Edwards aide Andrew Young had acted improperly when he called a three of the other witnesses recently, the AP wrote. She ruled it could be brought up in court but barred the term "witness tampering" before the jury.

Young is Edwards' longtime friend and a key witness for the prosecution.

The Los Angeles Times reported Edwards' defense attorney Allison Van Laningham scrawled the word "“humiliation” on the courtroom blackboard, explaining that he hid the affair which “may be a sin, but it is not a federal election crime."

Edwards pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts.

More from GlobalPost: John Edwards trial begins in North Carolina on campaign finance charges

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120423/john-edwards-trial-judge-says-witness-acted-impr