Local / Politics / Virginia

Opinion, please: McDonnell trial

ScalesThe trial of former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife is, mercifully, coming to an end. Nearly every newspaper and TV station in the state has had reporters there, day after day. If you haven’t seen the coverage, you must have been living under a rock 🙂 I’ve been doing a few TV appearances about the case – latest yesterday – and will probably do a couple more next week.

Here’s the thing: as much coverage as there has been about the trial (The Virginian-Pilot has had reporters there every day and posted all of the exhibits here, The Washington Post has had a daily live blog) there has been one glaring omission. While reporting every little tidbit of testimony, I’ve seen almost nothing about how the jury is reacting to what they are hearing.  Obviously, the jury can’t talk to the press; however, I expected some reporting of their reactions, if nothing more than their facial expressions. Perhaps this jury is very stoic?

Based on what I’ve read, it seems that on the 11 corruption counts – as I said before the case started – the McDonnells should be acquitted. I just don’t think the government has made its case.

I also think Bob McDonnell should be acquitted for the charge against him for falsifying the loan application that ultimately ended up in the hands of Towne Bank. Since it was his personal financial statement and not a joint one, the loan from Jonnie Williams to wife Maureen didn’t have to be disclosed.

There is a single charge of obstruction against Maureen McDonnell, for which she should also be acquitted. Testimony was given that she was not under investigation at the time the offenses occurred.

So that just leaves the last charge against the couple related to the PenFed loan application. Anyone who has ever done a mortgage loan application understands the process. However, leaving off the JW loan to Maureen just didn’t make any sense. (The loans to MoBo, with no personal guarantee by Bob McDonnell, do make sense. And the government hasn’t convinced me that those loans were to Bob.) This charge, if I were on the jury, I would convict them of.

But hey – I’m just an observer who hasn’t been in the courtroom for five weeks. And I’m no lawyer. So take what I say with a grain of salt 🙂

What do you think, dear reader? What charges, if any, should the McDonnells be convicted of?

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10 thoughts on “Opinion, please: McDonnell trial

  1. I think there was quid pro quo, and I thought that before either Mrs. McDonnell, the former Governor or Jonny Williams said anything or had any fingers pointed at him/her.

    Growing up we heard many mentions of ‘circumstantial evidence’ but not so much, that I recall, in this case or other high profile court cases in recent years. If you read any comments on PilotOnline.com referring to the case, you have seen that many posters are saying something to effect that: ‘The McDonnells may have done this, that or the other; but there’s no hard, substantial evidence that any of the people meant anything other than gestures of friendly give and take, etc.’ People who weighed in constantly suggested that without any spoken/written evidence between any of the principles there’s no case for quid pro quo. But, there is tangible evidence, and it’s in the form of thousand-dollar clothes and accessories including the famous Rolex from Williams and like-wise from the McDonnells in the form of lots and lots of access, just to begin with.

    How can we believe there was nothing going on with the Governor and his family and Jonny Williams, when we haven’t seen any other CEOs take the stand to testify that he or she also gave gifts and got special treatment from the McDonnell Administration. Granted, no one in their right mind would admit it in that way; but, where is another company who GAVE and GOT what Jonny Williams got or gave so much to the McDonnell family?

    I may be wrong there – maybe I just missed reading the paper the days those folks stood up for the McDonnells. Maybe some CEO of some other Virginia company DID step forward with statements that would show Gov. McDonnell didn’t JUST get such lavish gifts from Williams, but from them also. Maybe the former governor DID set up meetings for other state CEOs with high ranking people in other Virginia departments – but, if so why did no one testify to receiving the same generous attention that Mr. Williams was given?

    And, there was that damning picture that was out there for us all to see a year or so ago, but no longer available – the one of Gov. McDonnell smiling and holding up the container of Anatabloc. I found it easily when all this first came to our attention, but the Governor seems to have only decided he didn’t give permission of the picture’s use when he, his wife and Williams came under fire. All those things are more than a little difficult, in my book, to merely roll our eyes, wink and nod at. I think the circumstances that allowed the Gov.’s Mansion to be used as it was for the Star Scientific product launch, or product luncheon or whatever the defense attorneys chose to call it, is suspect.

    My opinion is that without something of substance behind all these ‘circumstances’ that really did produce evidence (to my way of thinking) we would have NEVER seen Mrs. McDonnell and her off kilter actions thrown out for all to mull through. Call me pessimistic, but I just do not believe the McDonnell defense teams would have started off with the ‘lonely, ignored, moody, lady-without-a-grip-in-sight’ defense if there wasn’t something more sketchy to keep in the background.

    I’m not in any way suggesting there are dead bodies buried under a beautiful staircase in the Governor’s Mansion; I’m simply stating that – in my opinion, and you did ask for opinions – SOMETHING was going on that cannot be explained simply by flaunting the actions, outbursts, demands and love for designer clothes of a middle-aged woman’s hormonal-like antics.

    And, all the above is BEFORE I even got around to the legal charges about loans, loan forms, admissions on loan forms and all that.

    Here, though, I would like to apologize to anyone who read my comment from 8/21 regarding all this. I try not to make comments of a personal nature; I prefer making comments about politicians POLITICS – but, not their looks, families or anything really uncalled for. I wrote this about the McDonnells . . . “… this gang, that look more and more every day like they just arrived from Hooterville.” (http://hamptonroads.com/2014/08/mcdonnell-cartoon-was-bad-decision#comment-1821315 )

    That statement was personal, nasty in nature and just plain old, uncalled for. These are public people and as such I know they’re considered fair game. But, I don’t like to get personal and I try to refrain from doing that. I went over my self-imposed line and I should have listened to that little fellow on one shoulder whispering, “That’s rude and hurtful; don’t hit the ‘POST’ button;” instead of the screaming idiot on the other shoulder shouting … “Wow, that sounds good, let ’em have it!” Try as we might, I guess we all have a total jerk inside us, just waiting for the right moment to slip in and try to show off.

    Thanks, Vivian, for opinion-seeking today. You gave me a chance to unload my opinions and to apologize for my bad behavior. / Jane

  2. So confusing….makes my head hurt. I think he is guilty of something……if for nothing else…..lying to the public, about his feeling for his wife.

    • In my opinion, and that’s worth exactly ZIP; ha. But,one of the things I think former Gov. McDonnell did for Star Scientific was allowing the product luncheon/launch to take place in the state’s mansion, which gave an appearance of supporting the product. I also believe that happened at a time when people were needed to invest in the company, and a sitting Governor and First Lady were the top officials in the state. Their support of the product was huge when you consider the prestigious place the product launch occurred in. I think we can all be certain that THAT particular setting and support for the product delivered quite a few investors to Star Scientific.

      I think you can say that it was all Mrs. McDonnell if you really want to; but, the Gov. is who was elected and HE is the one that had to OK the go-ahead for that product launch to take place there.

      And, then when you have the CEO sitting next to the Gov. at an event that was supposedly (according to testimony) the result of a great new garment for Mrs. McDonnell from Williams — hmmm. Nothing there, you say? Ok.

      That’s not even including the meetings that were set up for Mr. Williams with department heads to discuss the product – Anatabloc.

      Really? Nothing there? If you say there’s nothing there, I’ll have to wonder just what you would need as proof.

      • Thanks, Jane. I had not heard that the product launch was done at the state mansion. Were other companies given such fetes at the mansion?

        • I didn’t read of any other CEOs who were allowed
          such prestigious digs to launch their new products from. (Bad grammar, there – sorry.) Since that luncheon launch was such a big deal, IF there were other companies who could make the same claim, it seems like the defense would have had them testify to show that JWilliams wasn’t the only CEO to be given that level of access and support from the First Couple. Just my opinions, Warren.

  3. I wish I could say that I thought it was a risky strategy to throw your wife under the bus and portray her like a mentally imbalanced and hysterical shrew . . . but the truth is that he only needs one juror to buy into it.

  4. ver-dict {noun}: the finding or decision of a jury on the matter submitted to it in trial (source from the Latin eredictum, literally meaning “to say the truth”.

    The truth is upon what this verdict depends. Namely, the veracity of the two main characters, Jonnie Williams or former-Governor Robert Mcdonnell. On the one hand, Williams’ testimony is in question because he received complete immunity. On the other, McDonnell’s testimony is dubious because it contained political-type non-denials denials, convenient lapses of memory, and an overall evasive demeanor.

    In this trial, the jurors will based their verdict not on the performance of the jurists, but solely upon who to believe more.

    The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace. (Proverbs 13:5)
    If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

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