News Column

McDonnell trial: Prosecution gets its crack at McDonnell today

August 25, 2014

By Travis Fain Tfain@dailypress.Com, Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

Aug. 25--RICHMOND -- The prosecution is slated to begin its cross examination of former Gov. Bob McDonnell in mere minutes.

Bill Burck, the lead attorney for the governor's wife, Maureen, just wrapped up his questioning of the former governor. The governor said his wife never asked him to do anything official as governor for Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who gave the couple more than $177,000 in gifts and loans by the FBI's count, in return for things of value.

Burck also focused for a time on text messages and other communications McDonnell had with Williams without any involvement from his wife.

He showed the jury a series of messages -- some of them new to this trial -- that seemed to show Williams and the governor exchanging playful texts, like friends. Williams, the government's star witness in this case, has said the relationship was all business for him.

McDonnell said on the stand Friday, and again today, that he considered Williams a friend by mid-2012. By that point, Williams had loaned the family $120,000 and paid for a number of outings.

"We talked a lot about personal things," he said.

He was using the McDonnells, he said, to win credibility for his company's marquee product, a dietary supplement called Anatabloc. He hoped to get grant funding and state research hospital support for clinical trials, but that never came through.

In fact, Williams never got any state money. He got a handful of meetings with state officials and was allowed to invite people to mansion events.

Williams testified that even a Labor Day weekend, 2012, trip to an exclusive Cape Cod resort with the McDonnells was business for him. Essentially, he has said, he was using them.

The McDonnell defense says Williams is lying, embellishing his story for prosecutors who gave him an immunity deal not just in this case, but on questionable stock transactions. He's also a focus of a pending civil suit against his company, formerly known as Star Scientific, now called Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals.

This is a breaking news story. Come back later for updates.


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