McDonnell eased into his testimony, laying out a short version of his life story in his calm and measured voice, and under questioning from one of his many attorneys. Then he made it clear: He didn't do anything for Star Scientific that he didn't do for other
In fact, he said, he often did less.
Obviously the FBI and
Williams got several meetings with state officials in return, the government alleges. He also got to invite people to two events at the governor's mansion and benefited, according to his own testimony, from a halo effect of credibility as the couple promoted Star's marquee product, the dietary supplement Anatabloc.
But McDonnell attorney
It didn't get a line item in the budget, a
"My administration did very little (for Star)," McDonnell testified, reaffirming testimony offered by several former administration officials.
"These mansion events were routine," he said. "Bare, basic, routine access to government."
Williams' name came up but once during the governor's time on the stand, which followed testimony from character witnesses who praised McDonnell's honesty and virtue. That included a college roommate from Notre Dame, now a priest and political professor at the school, and McDonnell's best friend from high school.
"Bob has never erred from the truth, to my knowledge," said Father
"One of the best human beings I know," added 46-year friend
Would he ever knowingly do something illegal? Asbill asked.
"No chance," Damico said.
At day's end, the two old friends walked the governor out of the federal courthouse while a media throng surrounded them.
She, not the governor, had the most contact with Williams, the evidence shows. And the defense says she, not the governor, did the most to help Williams in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get grant funding and state research for his product.
Attorneys for both McDonnells have welcomed testimony about the former first lady's mental state, and Wednesday brought more of it. A management consultant with a Ph.D. in psychology testified that he advised the governor in early 2012 to consider therapy for his wife.
The governor declined,
Burke said he also suggested that the first lady move out of the governor's mansion and into the couple's private home. She was clearly stressed, Burke said, and anxious about the public speaking expected of first ladies. She exhibited some signs of depression, he said.
Burke and his team were brought in to build and help the first lady's staff about the time
After two months Burke nearly threw up his hands, telling a mansion staffer he would rather "put my priorities in more fruitful endeavors," according to emails put into evidence Wednesday by the McDonnell defense.
In another email, Burke told a staffer that McDonnell was "unwilling to confront the real problem."
"You poor dear," he told the staffer, who felt blamed for
Burke also testified that, despite numerous conversations with
Burke said he was helping the first lady edit a speech at the time, and she was anxious.
"I really wouldn't be doing this for anyone else but that man of mine," she wrote him.
"Ah, love," he replied. "It is a wonderful thing."
McDonnell spoke only briefly about his wife Wednesday. Most of his time on the stand was spent re-introducing himself to the jury.
He briefly recounted his childhood, with a focus on the values that he learned. He was one of five children, and said he got "the belt from my dad" and "the velvet glove from my mom." Two sisters sat in the courtroom Wednesday as he testified.
McDonnell talked about his time in the
The McDonnells had two daughters by then, with a third born while he was in school.
"We worked very hard," McDonnell said. "We called that the years without sleep."
Twin boys came later, making a family of seven. McDonnell became a prosecutor, then a 14-year
The governor's race, in 2009, was much the same. He said he drove 11 hours home one night -- from one tip of
He talked about raising more than
He walked the jury through
McDonnell said he raised about
He recounted several specific times he told large donors, and friends, that he couldn't give them the appointments that they wanted. He ticked off some big names in state politics:
McDonnell talked about winning that 2009 gubernatorial election. The next morning, he was exhilarated, he said, but he could tell his wife was on edge.
"She was yelling at me about something," he said, as they readied for the day in a
His cell phone rang, with a
"Can you hold for the president of
And next: "Hello, Bob, this is Barack."
Fain can be reached by phone at 757-525-1759.
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