Star Witness Grilled by McDonnell's Defense Team About Gifts

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Aug. 1, 2014

The prosecution's star witness in the federal corruption trial against former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, has testified for two full days and will return to the witness stand again Monday morning.

Call logs show Jonnie Williams and Maureen McDonnell exchanged 1200 texts and phone calls. Williams told the jury "95%" of those conversations were business discussion on his dietary-supplement company's newest product, Anatabloc. Defense attorneys for Maureen McDonnell claim she developed a crush on wealthy businessman, and the pair developed an inappropriate relationship. To support that theory, defense attorney, William Burck, showed jurors an email Maureen sent Williams in August of 2011, after an earthquake rocked Virginia.

"I just felt the Earth move, and I wasn't having sex."

Williams chuckled on the witness stand, but said he didn't recall the email.

"It lends weight to the defense's theory that there was no exchange by the governor or his administration to Mr. Williams of any favors in exchange for the money that Mr. Williams gave," Scott Goodman, a defense attorney in Charlottesville said. "Rather it was an illicit relationship between the governor's wife and Mr. Williams. That's what this is all about, that's what all the gifts are for: Sex in exchange for gifts. So this is an alternative theory that the defense has presented which the jury might hand its head on.”

There were more than a few contentious moments in the courtroom Friday afternoon, as defense attorneys for Bob McDonnell began their cross-examination of Williams. Henry Asbill grilled Williams about his interviews with Virginia State Police and FBI agents and about possible SEC violations.

Asbill also questioned Williams about how much the former governor knew about the lavish gifts he gave the McDonnells. He listed all of the items Williams bought for Maureen during a New York City shopping spree in 2011. She received $20,000 in designer clothes, including an Oscar de la Renta gown, Louis Vuitton handbags and shoes, and a floor-lenth white leather coat. Williams acknowledged on the witness stand he never spoke with the governor about the gifts, and couldn't say for sure if he knew about them.

Evidence released to the public shows Bob McDonnell driving a Ferrari loaned to him by Williams, as well as Bob texting Williams a photo of himself wearing the Rolex that prosecutors say was a gift. Williams told the jury that Maureen had noticed his Rolex watch and said, "I'd really like to get one of those for the governor." Williams said he agreed, and purchased one for $6,000 or $7,000. He said engraving "Robert McDonnell 71st Governor of Virginia" on the watch was Maureen's idea. Williams testified that Bob may not have known the Rolex was purchased by him.

In May of 2012, Bob McDonnell misspells Williams' first name in a text referencing a cash loan.

"Johnnie. Per voicemail would like to see if you could extend another 20k loan for this year. Call if possible and I'll ask mike to send instructions. Thx bob"

Leaving the federal courthouse Friday evening, Bob McDonnell told reporters, "I look forward to the truth coming out and I look forward to next week". McDonnell is expected to testify in his own defense.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell are charged in a 14-count federal indictment with taking more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his company's products.

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