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HOLMBERG: McDonnell’s corruption case tied to the man with the golden tongue

RICHMOND, Va. — Day four of the Bob and Maureen McDonnell corruption trial and the bimbo defense – that Mrs. McDonnell was crushing on the millionaire businessman who allegedly bribed them – appears to need some tinkering to include the former governor.

Testimony from Jonnie Williams in the historic federal corruption case indicated that Bob McDonnell not only accepted a game show’s worth of prizes and trips, he met with the golden-tongued businessman to scheme how they could keep it under the table.

“He looks like he’s telling the truth,” local attorney and CBS-6 legal analyst Todd Stone said after watching a big chunk of the day’s testimony from Williams. “And I think he was very damaging to the governor today. There was a lot of evidence about ways they could intentionally get around reporting requirements” elected officials must follow for gifts and other types of donations.

Jonnie Williams, the man with the golden tongue, has spent most of his life successfully convincing others that the words he speaks are the truth. He is said to be the consummate salesman. By the time he was 24, he had sold enough cars and houses in his Frederickburg hometown to have bought two homes and a gold Mercedes, according to a previous profile in the paper there.

He’s had an optical company, pharmaceutical company and a tobacco company. He’s been hauled into court when his golden promises turned to lead. That’s why Williams is currently under the legal gun from shareholders for his current tobacco-based supplement company.

That’s the Anatabloc firm that snared the former first couple – the first governor to be tried for corruption in the history of the state. [Click here to read about the company]

Williams is oh-so convincing. He told the courtroom he believes that the anatabine substance he isolated from tobacco is the most significant medical discovery since antibiotics. He testified he spent hours trying to convince governor McDonnell of this very significance.

Questions from the defense indicate they may show the governor, like so many others, believed Williams had made a revolutionary discovery.

What governor wouldn’t celebrate a homegrown home-run like that? Elected officials often showcase significant actions from locals, such as Olympic gold medals, heroic acts, businesses that have benefitted the state.

But getting all those goodies that Williams testified he shared with the McDonnells? Cognac with dinner that cost $5,000 a bottle?

Talk about alleged bimbo behavior. How could a man like McDonnell, seemingly so principled , orderly and cautious with the state’s business, accept a Rolex, Ferrari loaner, trips and “loans”? How could a man so aware of his place in state history risk becoming the first governor to be tried for corruption?

Todd Stone believes the McDonnells are in real trouble if the jurors believe Jonnie Williams.

Stone said he also sensed veracity in Williams’ explanation from the stand that the feds have given him immunity from prosecution for influence peddling and stock manipulation as long as he tells the truth.

Williams testified that he believes this kind of quid pro quo is typical in state politics. Many citizens, including this one, believe this kind of thing does happen with more than a few elected officials across the nation.

But it’s a rare and ugly thing to watch the lid pried off like this and see and hear an unflappable and unapologetic businessman testify how he went about buying influence and credibility from our state’s governor.

Will the jurors believe Jonnie Williams?

For most of his life, just about everyone else has. It’s why he remains a millionaire, even while others have lost millions on his golden promises.

The cross-examination of Williams continues Friday. So far, the defense hasn’t asked a hard question. You can expect when they start coming, Williams will remain calm and convincing and in the moment.

It seems he was made for this.

RELATED:  HOLMBERG: Testimony seems to back up ‘bimbo defense’ in McDonnell corruption trial

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