Interesting Defense in McDonnell Trial

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are facing federal criminal corruption charges for accepting massive bribes and kickbacks from a campaign contributor and they are offering a very unusual defense: They couldn’t have been in cahoots on this because their marriage was falling apart — and she was crushing on the guy giving all the money and gifts.

Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and his wife on Tuesday unveiled an unorthodox defense to the federal corruption charges against them: Maureen McDonnell had a “crush” on the charismatic executive who lavished gifts and cash on the couple.

Maureen McDonnell’s intense — even romantic — interest in Jonnie R. Williams Sr. helps explain why she let him pay for expensive shopping trips and vacations for her and her family while she promoted a nutritional supplement he was trying to sell, defense attorneys said during opening statements. She was not hatching a scheme with her husband to get rich by abusing the prestige of the governor’s office; rather, she was a woman in a broken marriage who craved attention.

“Jonnie Williams was larger than life to Maureen McDonnell,” said William Burck, Maureen McDonnell’s lead defense attorney. “But unlike the other man in her life, Jonnie Williams paid attention to Maureen McDonnell.”

As for the guv himself, he has declared himself completely innocent because he just loves Virginia so darn much.

And the governor, his defense attorneys said, was an honest public servant who promised Williams nothing of consequence. They said he would take the witness stand to proclaim his innocence even if that required him to lay bare his family’s troubles and discuss his wife’s dealings with another man.

“Bob McDonnell is an innocent man,” said John Brownlee, one of his lead defense attorneys. He said that his client had intended only to promote a Virginia company and that the great lengths prosecutors had gone to prove otherwise — including flying to California to interview former presidential candidate Mitt Romney — had been unsuccessful.

“Bob McDonnell eats Virginia ham. He drinks Virginia wine. And my guess is, if the man smoked, he’d smoke Virginia cigarettes,” Brownlee said.

Which has precisely nothing to do with whether he’s guilty or not. I don’t think this is likely to be a successful defense strategy.

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  • Reginald Selkirk

    Yet more evidence that gay marriage has destroyed the institution of marriage.

  • Michael Heath

    The gov’s on the record asking for underlings to help his benefactor mere minutes after McConnell accepted money/gifts.

  • dugglebogey

    So the defense is “He wasn’t giving money to get political favors, he was just trying to fuck my wife”?

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Still that minor matter of a Rolex. Hard to square that with his defense. This guy’s so crooked he hangs his pants on a corkscrew.

  • dingojack

    ‘He is so crooked he can’t sleep straight in bed’

    Which kinda explains his wife actions I guess…

    😉 Dingo

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Hey, here’s an idea. Maybe he could say he got the Rolex for pimping out his wife to Jonnie Sr. He could show up in court dressed in a big hat and a lime green leisure suit. Nice!

  • John Pieret

    Hey! The guy was bribing giving us expensive gifts not because he expected the state to give him lucrative contracts but because he wanted to get into my wife’s panties! It’s something that any reasonable man would agree to! What could possibly go wrong with such a defense?

  • caseloweraz

    “Bob McDonnell eats Virginia ham. He drinks Virginia wine. And my guess is, if the man smoked, he’d smoke Virginia cigarettes,” Brownlee said.

    Maybe he should start smoking — just to bolster his chances.

    I suggest Virginia Slims.


  • cptdoom

    Yeah, that defense kind of got shot down by the same Mr. Williams – who flipped for the feds and is singing like the proverbial canary – in his testimony yesterday. He insisted the McDonnell’s were not friends of his, that he only gave the gifts, etc., because he wanted a boost for his business. McDonnell’s lawyers seemed to be ensuring the marriage won’t last through the trial, though, because they kept throwing Mrs. McDonnell under the bus by pointing out she was making all the deals with Williams. Apparently McDonnell never thought to ask why this guy was paying for his daughter’s wedding catering bill, among other big-ticket items. The best part was when Williams testified Mrs. McDonnell wanted him to buy their kids a Land Rover, but he thought that was too obvious (nice to know even grifters have limits).

  • colnago80

    Re Michael Heath @ #2

    It’s McDonnell, not McConnell. More evidence that an edit function is needed for comments.

  • doublereed

    McDonnell is the Virginia ex-governor. McConnell is a Neo-Confederate Lt. Governor from South Carolina.

  • colnago80

    Re doublereed @ #11

    I think that ole Mike was referring to the former governor of Virginia who is on trial for accepting bribes. AFAIK, the current Lt. Governor of South Carolina is not on trial for accepting bribes.

  • tsig

    The “I wasn’t taking bribes, I was pimping out my wife” defense.


  • sailor1031

    Oh dear, how confusing. Didn’t that nice Mr Williams testify only the other day that he gave the McDonnells gifts to gain business and financial advantages and that he had no interest in a personal friendship with either of them?

  • sharonb

    More frikken hypocrisy from Robertson / Fallwell Regent University CHRinos.

    Obviously guilty of accepting bribes, comes up with another lie (the woman did it) to try to cover it all up.

    Ugh, if I weren’t already a follower of Christ, there is progressively little from its most prominent proponents that would convert me.

    This is just disgusting.

  • dingojack

    tsig (#13) – the ‘Lot Defence’.


  • “if I weren’t already a follower of Christ,”

    HE’s on Twitter?