Ex-Va. Gov. McDonnell: 'I don't blame my wife'

RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- Bob McDonnell's attorney finished direct examination in the federal corruption trial against the former Virginia governor and his wife Friday afternoon with a series of rapid-fire questions.

"Did you commit any crime while you were the governor of Virginia?" defense attorney Henry Asbill asked.

"No, I did not," McDonnell answered.

"In your heart, in your mind, are you innocent of the charges in this case?" defense attorney Henry Asbill asked.

"Absolutely," McDonnell answered.

Asbill: "What do you think Jonnie Williams wanted from you?"
McDonnell: "He never told me."

"I misjudged Jonnie Williams. I thought he was a true friend," McDonnell said.

When asked if he ever made any promises to Jonnie Williams "written, oral, nod, wink," McDonnell said he did not.

Asbill: "Do you blame your wife?"
McDonnell: "No, I don't blame my wife."

Asbill: "Do you blame yourself?"
McDonnell: "I hold myself accountable. I got my life out of balance."

Bob McDonnell said he wouldn't trade his 38 years in public service for golf outings or expensive dinners.

He said "having some time with my family" was the most important gift he ever received.

Bob and Maureen McDonnell are accused of accepting more than $177,000 in gifts and loans from then Star-Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his dietary supplement, Anatabloc. Bob McDonnell says his wife is responsible for most of the gifts and loans, and says it was Maureen who invited Jonnie Williams to various mansion events.

Bob McDonnell says he didn't think accepting loans and gifts from Williams was inappropriate because Williams didn't ask for anything in return from the state government. The only thing Williams asked for was that the governor call his father on his 80th birthday.

Loans to MoBo Real Estate LLC

McDonnell testified that the first $50,000 loan to MoBo, his real estate company with sister Mo, was secured by his wife Maureen without his knowledge. McDonnell said he was in talks with Williams about a margin loan with Star Scientific stock when he found out that Williams had written a $50,000 check to MoBo.

McDonnell walked the jury through handwritten notes that he said came about during phone calls and a meeting with Williams about the possible margin loan. McDonnell that the notes, which reference Star stock, were different possible deals that Williams was laying out.

"I felt I had nothing to hide and turned everything over that I had," McDonnell said on giving the handwritten notes to the government.

When he found out about the $50,000 check, McDonnell said he was fine accepting that loan because he was looking for operating cash anyways, not stock.

Testifying about the second loan for $20,000, McDonnell said that Jonnie Williams had made an offer, and he accepted because it was a business decision that he had already discussed with sister Mo.

McDonnell said he didn't disclose the loans on his Statement of Economic Interest because he understood them to be loans to MoBo LLC, a corporate entity. He said they didn't have any personal guarantee. McDonnell testified that the loans were disclosed to the MoBo bookkeeper and have since been paid back.

Cape Cod Chatham Bars Inn Vacation

McDonnell said the trip he took with Jonnie and Celeste Williams to Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod was in part to "make up" for a trip planned by his wife Maureen that was cancelled. Maureen had planned a trip with the Williams for their anniversary, but McDonnell said he had to cancel because it was right after Virginia was hit with earthquakes and tornadoes.

McDonnell testified that the main reason he went to Chatham Bars Inn was to spend time with his wife. He said it was supposed to be a "getaway, relaxing weekend" with Maureen and that he didn't care about the fancy hotel.

McDonnell testified that Jonnie Williams never asked for anything on that trip, which McDonnell reported on his SOEI.

Star Scientific Stock

The defense asked McDonnell about a text he sent to Williams that mentioned "stock going great." McDonnell said that he typically talked to people about things that are important to them, and that he knew Williams really cared about the value of his stock. McDonnell added that he never owned any Star stock and never told Williams that he did.

McDonnell testified about December 2012, when Maureen told him she had repurchased Star Scientific stock that she wanted to give to the kids for Christmas. McDonnell said he found out Maureen had the stock since January and that he was upset with Maureen, because it was just another thing she didn't tell him.

McDonnell said the stock was "not a big deal" to report on the SOEI if Maureen wasn't gifting it to her children. Two of their children signed forms on Christmas for the transfer of stock.

August 30, 2011 Mansion Lunch

McDonnell testified that a lunch held at the mansion for Anatabloc was an event that Maureen was holding. He testified that he was not involved at all in the planning of the lunch and had no say in the invite list.

"Many events are scheduled with no yes or no from me," McDonnell said on the stand.

He testified that he attended the two hour event for about 40 minutes where he had lunch, listened to some presentation and heard from a few researchers about the status of Anatabine research.

February 29, 2012 Healthcare Leaders Reception

McDonnell testified that Dr. Bill Hazel planned the reception that Jonnie Williams attended. McDonnell said he made notes about a few doctors and healthcare leaders that he wanted to invite, but that Hazel and the mansion director were responsible for the invite list. McDonnell said he did not add Jonnie Williams to the list.

March 21, 2012 Healthcare Meeting

McDonnell testified about a meeting that he had with Sara Wilson and Lisa-Hicks Thomas about consumer driven healthcare. McDonnell admitted to taking Anatabloc in that meeting, which Wilson and Hicks-Thomas previous testified about. McDonnell said, at that time, he was taking Anatabloc three to five times a day.

McDonnell said he does not have a clear recollection of whether or not he suggested Wilson and Hicks-Thomas look into the product.

Bob McDonnell is expected to continue his testimony into Monday.


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