John Edwards Admits He Fathered Mistress' Child

Just when we thought times couldn’t become any more fraught for Elizabeth Edwards -- the political wife who has been painted in the new book Game Change as an emotional mess and an “ego monster,” all while undergoing treatment for a cancer deemed incurable -- her husband, two-time Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, has now confirmed what many Americans already concluded for themselves.

In an exclusive with NBC’s Today show, Edwards acknowledged fathering former mistress Rielle Hunter's 2-year-old daughter in 2007 during his run for president. Edwards' reps say he’s been providing financial support for the little girl, and that he has just signed a child support agreement with Hunter.

Some speculate the admission is advance damage control, in anticipation of an upcoming Jan. 29 interview on ABC's 20/20, in which Edwards' onetime aide Andrew Young is expected to spill shocking details about the scandal's fallout and subsequent paternity coverup. Watch Today's coverage here:

 

In a statement released to NBC, Edwards says: "I am Quinn's father. I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves. I have been able to spend time with her during the past year and trust that future efforts to show her the love and affection she deserves can be done privately and in peace.”

Regarding previous flat-out denials that he fathered Hunter's child, Edwards writes: “It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me. I have been providing financial support for Quinn and have reached an agreement with her mother to continue providing support in the future."

According to John Edwards' close friend and political advisor, Harrison Hickman, Elizabeth Edwards learned last summer that Quinn is her husband’s child. “Elizabeth thinks he should acknowledge this,” Hickman said in an interview with Today, adding that, “For everyone, it’s been a difficult time, but for Elizabeth more than anyone else.”

The disgraced politician has purchased a two-story house for Hunter in Charlotte, N.C., about two hours from his own home. He’s been visiting his young daughter there and developing his relationship with her. Says Hickman, “He talks about her being a beautiful child and a happy child. He’s very proud of this child.”

Friends say that Elizabeth and John, who married in 1977 and have three children together, have separated. However, the two (who lost their son Wade in 1996 when the 16-year-old was killed in a car accident) reportedly still talk on a regular basis.

Edwards' statement concludes, "To all those I have disappointed and hurt these words will never be enough, but I am truly sorry."

PHOTOS: Cheating Hearts: WHat Makes Famous Men Stray?

If you were Elizabeth Edwards, could you forgive John? Chime in below!

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