By Lynn R. Mitchell
Revealed this week was the rest of the story, so to speak, with revelations that Maureen McDonnell was prepared to testify in court about her activities with Jonnie Williams, according to reporter Andrew Cain at the Richmond Times-Dispatch (see Maureen McDonnell planned to testify about concealment from husband):
Maureen McDonnell was prepared to testify last year that she concealed from her husband many of her activities involving Jonnie R. Williams Sr., including his lavish gifts and her purchases of Star Scientific stock.
William Burck, a lawyer for the former first lady, submitted the declaration last year to support Bob McDonnell’s motion for separate trials. Burck wrote that Maureen McDonnell wanted to testify on her husband’s behalf, but that if the judge did not split the trials she would not take the stand, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Judge James R. Spencer declined to hear the declarations in private, without prosecutors present, but kept Burck’s assertions under seal. The judge refused to separate the McDonnells’ trials, and Maureen McDonnell did not testify in the joint trial.
With Maureen McDonnell’s assent, the filing has now been unsealed as part of Bob McDonnell’s appeal.
Remember the famous Rolex watch that Maureen gave Bob? She was prepared to testify:
That at Christmas 2011 she gave the governor a Rolex watch and said it was a gift from “Santa.” Maureen McDonnell was prepared to testify that Williams bought the watch and gave it to her months earlier “over her protestations that Mr. McDonnell did not need another watch.” Williams testified at the trial that Maureen McDonnell asked him to buy the watch.
Sadly, this information is coming out now instead of eight months ago while the trial was in progress. This, in my opinion, helps explain why so many have stood behind the governor throughout this process, and why they felt it was a witch hunt especially since the federal government gave blanket immunity to Jonnie Williams who then had nothing to lose throughout the process. It reemphasized how much was kept from the governor at a time when he was the top executive in Virginia, heading up the Republican Governors Association, traveling the Commonwealth for events and meetings, and busy with everything that is part of being governor:
“Not only did Mrs. McDonnell not disclose to her husband many of the gifts from and interactions with Mr. Williams, she concealed much of what she was doing with him,” Burck wrote in the March 2014 document.
“Mrs. McDonnell believed that if her husband learned of these activities and Mr. Williams’ gifts, Mr. McDonnell would tell her to curtail her relationship with Mr. Williams and to stop accepting the gifts,” Burck wrote.
It is too late for the original trial but hopefully this information will be helpful with the appeal. Think of how much time and money could have been saved if this account had been released in August. Even better, think about how this trial would have gone if Jonnie Williams had been liable for persecution instead of walking away like a free bird.