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The circus that is the McDonnell Corruption Trial continued on Monday, this time with former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on the stand facing intense cross-examination by both the government and his co-defendant wife's counsel.
After Bob McDonnell spent days last week testifying as his own star witness, telling jurors that he couldn't have conspired with his wife because their marriage was estranged, that his wife was on medication for her frequent emotional outbursts, and that she was the one who sought out gifts from Jonnie Williams without his knowledge, the cross-examination, which could last for days, commenced.
One thing was clear after the first day of cross-examination: Bob McDonnell, the former prosecutor and state attorney general, was ready. "I've been preparing every day since you indicted me," he testified on the stand.
Blame It on the Wife
As expected, Bob McDonnell placed the blame for the inappropriate gifts, including a Rolex, a custom golf bag, trips to Cape Cod, and cash and loans totaling $135,000, squarely on his wife. Why? His defense is that he provided nothing of value to Williams in return, which is far more believable if his wife was the culprit.
According to The New York Times, prosecutors focused on the governor's finances -- two beach houses purchased at the height of the bubble that he couldn't get refinanced. USA Today recounts his testimony that his wife had, for years, asked for inappropriate gifts and loans from friends and family with his knowledge, and that he had borrowed $100,000 from his father (paying back only $615).
The portrait prosecutors are trying to paint is a desperate man, used to a high standard of living, who accepted gifts in exchange for official favors. As we recounted before, some of those favors included allowing Williams' company to throw a product launch party at the Governor's mansion and numerous meetings between Williams and state officials.
Blame It on the Husband
Maureen McDonnell's lawyers also cross-examined the former governor, making it clear that the governor and Williams had their own friendship, independent of his wife's alleged "crush" on Williams, reports the Times. Gov. McDonnell was also responsible for sending a state official to attend a meeting between Maureen and Williams. A series of text messages between Bob McDonnell and Williams points to a stronger relationship between the two than he let on in his own testimony as well.