Monday, June 25, 2018
News Roundup

Ex-governor of Virginia testifies that he did nothing illegal

RICHMOND, Va. — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell told jurors Friday that he is both innocent and contrite as he ended his third consecutive day of testifying in his corruption trial.

Asked by defense attorney Henry Asbill whether he ever committed the crimes he has been charged with, McDonnell said he had not.

"I know that in my heart," McDonnell said.

But he also said he holds himself accountable for the decisions that landed him in court. McDonnell and his supporters have long said that he may have used bad judgment but did not break any laws.

"I got my life out of balance," McDonnell said.

McDonnell testified Friday about loans and gifts he received from Jonnie Williams, then chief executive officer of Star Scientific Inc. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts, trips and loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his company's products, particularly the tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory supplement Anatabloc.

When the fifth week of the trial begins Monday, Bob McDonnell will be questioned by one of his wife's lawyers before prosecutors cross-examine him.

McDonnell testified that he does not blame his wife for his legal troubles. However, the defense has attempted to isolate the former governor from the dealings between Maureen McDonnell, who was not legally a public official, and Williams.

On Thursday, Bob McDonnell shared details about his marriage that were reminiscent of a soap opera. The ex-governor testified that he began working late to avoid going home and facing Maureen McDonnell's rage. The defense introduced a letter in which he told his wife he was "at a loss as to how to handle the fiery anger and hate from you that has become more and more apparent."

The former governor said he was unaware of many of the flashier gifts that Williams had given to his wife.

On Friday, he said he gave Williams no special treatment in exchange for the gifts and loans, only typical constituent service.

Williams, testifying under immunity, said earlier that he was not friends with the McDonnells and that he spent lavishly on them and their children solely to buy their influence as he sought state-backed research for Anatabloc.

The former governor disputed much of Williams' testimony. "I misjudged Jonnie Williams," McDonnell lamented. "I thought he was a true friend."

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