WCVE Analyst Jeff Schapiro discusses the opening rounds of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's federal corruption trial and Rep. Eric Cantor's surprise announcement that he is stepping down before the end of his final term.
Jonnie Williams, the star witness in the corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen, told prosecutors he gave the family over $150,000 worth of gifts and loans because they were helping his company. Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific, said he knew what he was doing was wrong and could be illegal.
When asked about a 6,000 dollar Rolex he purchased for Governor McDonnell at Maureen’s request he told prosecutors “I shouldn’t have to buy things like that to get the help I needed."
While much of the government’s case around the former first couple centers around Maureen McDonnell’s solicitation of gifts from Jonnie Williams, Governor McDonnell did have several documented instances of notable direct dealings with the former Star Scientific CEO.
Jonnie Williams told federal prosecutors yesterday that he did not grant all of the former first families requests, having denied Maureen’s request for two cars for her children to avoid drawing unwanted attention.
In sworn testimony late yesterday afternoon Jonnie Williams told federal prosecutors that Maureen McDonnell came to him for help and asked for a $50,000 loan and $15,000 to pay for the catering at her daughter Cailin’s wedding. Williams said in 2011 the former first lady told him she and Governor McDonnell had discussed filing for bankruptcy because of excessive credit card debt and multiple rental properties purchased at the height of the housing bubble that were a drain on their finances.
The McDonnell’s son Bobby took the stand yesterday, confirming gifts to the family and golf trips from Jonnie Williams and filling in details. Bobby said when he first saw the now famous Rolex watch paid for by Williams but given as a Christmas gift by Maureen to her husband, he thought it was a blackmarket knockoff purchased on a recent trade mission to Asia. Bobby noticed the second hand ticked instead of rolling perpetually, the trademark of a Rolex.
Jonnie Williams, the dietary supplement manufacturer who gave former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen over $150,000 in gifts and loans while seeking clinical trials from state universities, took the stand today in their corruption trial.
In 2011 Williams hand-delivered Maureen McDonnell a $50,000 check to help cover the mortgage at their vacation house in Virginia Beach. When the prosecution asked about his motivations for the gift and whether he considered the McDonnell’s friends he replied “No, this was a business relationship.”
Defense attorneys for Maureen McDonnell say the former first lady had a “crush” on Jonnie Williams, the man who gave her and her husband, former Governor Bob McDonnell, over $150,000 in loans and gifts. The McDonnell’s separate defense teams both say there was a rift between the former first couple that predated their introduction Williams and that their marriage had broken down, precluding them from committing a conspiracy. \
Opening arguments and initial testimony were held in the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen, who accepted over $150,000 dollars in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of a struggling pharmaceutical company. The separate defense teams for Bob and Maureen McDonnell say no conspiracy between the couple could have occurred, because their marriage was troubled and the two were barely speaking. The former governor is expected to take the stand and read an email pleading with his wife to help save their marriage.
In a 2-1 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Defendants are expected to file a motion to stay the ruling, potentially sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
Attorney General Mark Herring voted in favor of the ban in 2006, but says like many Americans his views have since changed. Herring is the first AG to successfully argue at the appellate level for his state’s ban to be struck down.