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By MICHAEL BIESECKER
Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A key member of the legal team defending John Edwards will not represent the former presidential candidate at his upcoming campaign finance trial following questions about a potential conflict of interest.

A motion filed by federal prosecutors says Raleigh defense lawyer Wade Smith will withdraw. The move comes after prosecutors questioned whether Smith had a conflict of interest due to a 2009 conversation with a financial advisor for Bunny Mellon, a wealthy socialite who provided the bulk of nearly $1 million used to support Edwards’s pregnant mistress as he ran for president in 2007.

According to the government, Smith told Mellon’s advisor Edwards knew the money was intended to help him. That appears to conflict with statements by Edwards that he knew nothing of the payments.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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