In short, McDonnell said they're coincidence, not conspiracy.
"Please see me about Anatabloc issues at VCU and UVA," he wrote. "Thx."
Anatabloc, of course, was the chief product for Star Scientific at the time. Williams, Star's CEO, wanted the state's two main medical universities to study the dietary supplement's primary ingredient, and hopefully confirm health benefits.
Williams was having trouble getting university officials to return his calls, he had told the governor's wife, despite the
"Please call Jonnie today," the governor's wife had emailed Eige seven days earlier, on
McDonnell said Friday that he never OK'd that email. It was an example, he said, of his wife's occasional habit of dropping his name without permission.
Decisions on clinical trials at VCU and U.Va. were between university officials and Star Scientific, McDonnell said today. It seemed like a good idea, though, the former governor said.
Anatabloc's crucial element, anatabine, had been isolated from tobacco plants. If it had the health properties Williams claimed, that could be good for the state's struggling tobacco region.
Irrespective of the
But if Williams -- a
"He deserved the courtesy of at least a call back," he said.
That's what he was going to tell Eige, McDonnell said, though he didn't remember today whether that conversation actually happened. Late night emails were common for the governor, several former officials have testified, and this was one of several McDonnell sent before or after midnight
He also wanted to talk with Eige about a deal he was working on with Internet giant Amazon, and an ongoing budget crisis, emails show. This was the middle of the 2012 legislative session, and the state budget was stalled in partisan gridlock.
The governor was going out of town soon and wanted to get several things handled first, he said. That included his conversations with Eige and, separately, the loan he needed to tie down from Williams to help cover shortfalls on rental properties he owned with his youngest sister.
Eige responded to the governor's email promptly.
"Will do," he said about seeing McDonnell the next day. "We need to be careful with this issue."
McDonnell testified today that he didn't know what Eige meant by that. Eige and other close advisers testified earlier in this case that they were nervous about Williams' access to the mansion, and the way Star Scientific worked to show the governor's support for its product.
But they also said McDonnell never asked them to do anything inappropriate. The McDonnell defense alleges that wife
The February emails weren't the first uncomfortable coincidence for the governor's case, though. In the late summer of 2011 he asked a state health official to attend a meeting between Williams and the first lady.
The request came on a Sunday night, just after McDonnell had driven Williams'
He didn't know the status of Williams' hoped-for clinical trials at that point, he said, and he didn't follow up on the meeting. McDonnell simply wanted "someone with appropriate expertise" to sit in on the meeting, instead of Williams meeting solely with his wife and her chief of staff, he said.
Little came of the meeting.
One employee testified in this trial that McDonnell asked her during this meeting to meet with Star Scientific about the pills. Another didn't remember it that way. McDonnell said today he wasn't sure.
"I doubt it," he said. "I might have said, 'You might want to reach out to them.'"
One of those employees,
Nothing ever came of it, Wilson testified a couple of weeks ago. The governor never followed up or pressured her, she said.
This is a breaking news item, filed during the trial's lunch break. Come back for updates, and keep reading below for coverage of this morning's proceedings.
He said he didn't know the full extent of his wife's investment in Williams' company, how much contact they had or how thoroughly she was supporting that company, Star Scientific, as the first lady of
As his attorney continued to walk him through much of the "quid" in the alleged quid pro quo relationship with Williams, McDonnell explained each one away.
During loan talks, they didn't discuss Williams' desire to move things along at the University of
They never talked about keeping the loans a secret, either, McDonnell said, despite what Williams testified earlier in this trial.
The trip to
"No," McDonnell replied.
The governor said he and his wife paid Williams' brother,
As for the
Time and again this morning, McDonnell said Williams didn't ask him for any official actions as the two discussed loans, or spent time together on expensive trips and dinners. They have not yet discussed, in detail, what the governor's role may have been in a pair of mansion events Williams to which Williams was allowed to invite guests, and which he used to promote Anatabloc.
They have covered the meetings McDonnell set with state officials, which prosecutors allege to be part of the "quo" in a bribery conspiracy. McDonnell has said they were routine meetings, the sort he would arrange for any
Former administration officials have backed that up.
This is a breaking news item, filed during the trial's morning break. Come back for updates.
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