John Edwards’ explanation of his affair with videographer Rielle Hunter includes several apparent inconsistencies, which grate against his assertion that he was telling “99 percent” of the truth before coming clean Friday in a confessional interview.

Edwards admitted to the affair with Hunter, saying it began in 2006. He denied it for months it following reports by the National Enquirer last October.

But discrepancies between his story and the unraveling timeline of events raise more questions about whether Edwards’ attempts to come clean are in fact just more lies and half-truths.

A former close friend to Edwards’ mistress told on Monday that the former presidential candidate’s affair began months before she was hired to work for his campaign — contrary to Edwards’ claim that the relationship began only after Hunter was hired to film Edwards for a series of documentaries to appear on the Internet.

Pigeon O’Brien said Hunter met Edwards at a New York City hotel in late February or early March of 2006, and that the affair began shortly thereafter.

By the time Hunter was signed on to the Edwards campaign as a videographer — for a fee of $114,000 — O’Brien said they were already in a steamy relationship.

But Edwards said Friday that Hunter’s hiring in July 2006 had nothing to do with the affair, and that in fact the affair began after she was brought on board.

In his written statement admitting the affair, Edwards said the “misconduct took place for a short period in 2006. It ended then.”

But according to reports, Hunter wrote e-mails in early April about a trip she took to North Carolina to see her “love lips.”

Campaign finance records also show Hunter received her first payment in July 2006.

After Edwards was caught by The National Enquirer visiting Hunter in late July at the Beverly Hilton, the former North Carolina senator said Friday that that rendezvous was only arranged last minute.

“I had been in Los Angeles that day to do an event with the mayor, and that afternoon I got a call in my hotel room from a gentleman named Bob McGovern. … And he asked me to come and meet with them.”

But a National Enquirer reporter told in July that they got a tip “a while ago” that Edwards would be at that hotel, and that “we had some time to implement a plan.”

Without going into specifics, the reporter said the tip came within the week, suggesting the tabloid had more than an afternoon to organize its stakeout.

Edwards issued artful answers to a handful of other questions Friday.

Asked about reports that $15,000 a month was being paid to Hunter by Dallas attorney and Edwards supporter Fred Baron, Edwards said, “I had nothing to do with any money being paid and had no knowledge of any money being paid.”

He added: “Is it possible that he wanted to help them because they were in a difficult time? Of course. Is it possible that he was worried that in fact something had happened with me and he wanted to help? I mean, I think all these things are possible.”

Edwards also left open the door when asked about reports that he had met Hunter in California several times before his run-in with the Enquirer in July.

He responded only, “I was at the Beverly Hilton.”

Fox News