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LIVE UPDATES: Jury instruction set for Tuesday after day of closing arguments in McDonnell trial

RICHMOND, Va. — The federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, enters week five at the Federal Courthouse in Richmond. The government has rested its case, and the defense will begin now.

Scroll down for updates from the proceedings from CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George. [Click to follow Joe on Twitter] Week one updates | Week two updates | Week three updates | Week four updates

Joe St. George August 30, 20149:44 am

Week Five Summary: Legal Teams rest; closing arguments delivered

Friday may have been the most difficult day to write a TV news script. Nearly every sentence uttered by attorneys David Harbach, Bill Burck, Hank Asbill, and Michael Dry were quotes that either concisely helped the McDonnells or hurt them terribly.

Prosecutor David Harbach set the tone for the day by delivering an emotional two hour oratory that quite frankly kept everyone on the edge of their seats. 

“The single simple question of this case is why? Why did he give them and Why did they take them,” Harbach told jurors.

He implored them later on to not let this behavior stand in an office once occupied by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. Harbach told jurors McDonnell “stomped” on Virginia’s flag. 

He showed the rolex and asked: “Who poses like this for seven photos for a watch he thought was fake?”

He showed the Ferrarri and said: “Mr. Transparency, Mr. Honesty out and out lied to his staff”

“We don’t have to prove Jonnie Williams was the only option Mr McDonnell had- We have to prove Jonnie Williams was option Mr McDonnell chose,” Harbach added.

It was then Mrs. McDonnell’s turn. Attorney Bill Burck quickly emphasized
Maureen McDonnell was NOT a public official-a stipulation the government
agrees with.

“Maureen McDonnell was a volunteer – nothing more,” Burck said.

Burck described the relationship between Williams and Maureen McDonnell as “weird” but added that “weird is not a crime.”

“A case built on the word of Jonnie Williams is the definition of reasonable doubt,” Burke added.

Next up for Bob McDonnell was Attorney Hank Asbill.

“Jonnie got nothing,” Asbill said sternly and repeatedly. “Perhaps all Jonnie
really wanted was the ability to brag,” Asbill added.

Asbill tried to destroy the credibility of Jonnie Williams as well saying “Why are we here? We got Jonnie to thank for that.”

Asbill said that if setting out routine meetings are a crime “there will be politicians all over the country being prosecuted.”

Lead prosecutor Michael Dry got to have the last word telling jurors “Bob’s for Jobs should have beeen Bob’s for Bob.”

Dry emphasized the Governor through his wife under the bus to save himself. 

Jury instructions will happen Tuesday morning. They are lengthy and will
likely last an hour. Then the jury will begin deliberation. Be sure to
stick with us through out it all as we bring you the verdict.


Rashard Rose August 29, 20149:29 pm

Nick Dutton August 29, 20149:00 pm

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Scott Wise August 29, 20141:00 pm

Joe St. George and Jerrita Patterson breakdown closing arguments on the news at noon.

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Nick Dutton August 28, 20146:22 pm

Here’s Joe’s report from CBS 6 News at 6 p.m.

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Scott Wise August 28, 201412:53 pm

Jerrita Patterson reports live on CBS 6 News at Noon.

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Nick Dutton August 27, 201411:11 pm

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Day 23 Summary – The Defense Rests

Bob and Maureen McDonnell have rested their case in their corruption trial which so far has lasted nearly five weeks.

Maureen McDonnell stood up in federal court and told the judge what we knew for a while — that she would not be testifying in her own defense.

Mrs. McDonnell’s attorneys did however call several witness Wednesday — including Jeanine McDonnell (the eldest daughter).

Jeanine McDonnell testified communication between her parents at times was “nonexistent” and that her mother had a “mild obsession with Jonnie.”

During cross examination, Jeanine McDonnell admitted some of the Williams gifts made her feel “uncomfortable” but that she returned them “when we discovered Jonnie was a criminal.”

The prosecution objected to that statement — especially since Jonnie Williams has never been charged with a crime.

Other witnesses called included April Niamtu — a friend of Mrs. McDonnell’s who testified Jonnie Williams and Maureen McDonnell were “best buddies” and that when Jonnie sprung speeches on Maureen McDonnell it was “wrong.”

Atty. Emmitt Flood was also called by lawyers. Flood represented the McDonnells early on in the case. He testified to the obstruction of justice charge Maureen McDonnell has been accused of.

Flood said that at the time Mrs. McDonnell sent a letter to Jonnie Williams, prosecutors told him she was not the subject of a federal investigation.

Prosecutors argue Maureen McDonnell sent the letter to interfere with a federal investigation.

The McDonnells finished by calling Robert Ross — an investigator for the defense who summarized key texts and emails in the case.

Rebuttal witnesses will continue on Thursday morning — the government has already called two: James Abel (an event planner in NYC who discussed launching Jonnie Williams product with him) and Matt Hunter (a former start scientific employee who testified he drove the Ferrari to Smith Mountain Lake for the McDonnells to enjoy).

Head over to my facebook page for an updated timetable of when the jury could begin deliberations. Give my page a like while you are there!

https://www.facebook.com/JoeStGeorgeCBS6

See you for Day 24 Thursday — feel free to always tweet me questions on my handle @joestgeorge

JSG

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Head over to my facebook page for analysis on when this could wrap up — I am getting a lot of questions on this topic. https://www.facebook.com/JoeStGeorgeCBS6

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Day 22: Approaching the End

Perhaps the biggest news that came out of Tuesday’s testimony was that the end is near.

Before dismissing the jury for the day, Judge James Spencer instructed them that attorneys for Bob McDonnell have just one witness left. After that, Mrs. McDonnell’s attorneys will present their case which should last less than five hours.

While the government will have a chance for a rebuttal –in addition to jury instructions and closing arguments –it is possible that the jury could begin deliberations (or even produce a verdict) before the labor day holiday.

McDonnell finished his testimony on the stand after an intense multi-hour, multi-day cross examination by the government.

Lead prosecutor Michael Dry attempted to undermine McDonnell’s belief that Jonnie Williams was once his friend by highlighting how often he misspelled his name in emails and texts.

“”Is it typical that you don’t know how to spell the name of your personal friend?”

“I misspelled it,” McDonnell admitted.
This is important for several reasons — one being McDonnell did not have to disclose gifts from personal friends on his Statement of Economic Interest and two — Jonnie Williams never called McDonnell a friend but instead called his relationship “business” in nature. By showcasing the spelling error, Dry hopes the jury would believe Jonnie Williams over Bob McDonnell.
Dry also tried to show conspiracy by highlighting the fact that McDonnell did not share with his staff the fact Williams was providing McDonnell’s gifts and loans.

During this time, Dry showed an email in which McDonnell instructed his senior policy advisor to see him about “anatabloc issues” at Virgina Universities. McDonnell said those “issues” were that Jonnie Williams had trouble getting phone calls returned.
McDonnell brushed off the idea this was any type of quo.
“If you’re suggesting I got a $50,000 loan for MoBo to get Mr. Williams’ calls returned you’re completely off base,” McDonnell said in reply.

The prosecution closed by using McDonnell’s own words against him.

First, Dry attempted to undermine McDonnell’s belief that it was perfectly fine to have rental properties lose money in the upwards of $60K every year.

Dry showed a video clip from Fox News (scroll down in blog for actual video) of McDonnell saying that if families can’t balance the books they will go broke.

The final question Dry asked also centered around McDonnell’s past words. Dry referenced McDonnell’s scripture quote from his inaugural address in which he said “To whom much is given much will be required.”

My video report is below.
JSG

Joe St. George August 26, 20147:25 pm

The Labor Day holiday will of course complicate some things…perhaps incentive to get this thing to the jury early Thursday so they could be done by Friday.

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Jury instructions and closing arguments will follow the govt’s rebuttal BUT the end is near

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https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=748415498549186&id=411935245530548

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Day 21 Summary: Prosecution asks McDonnell questions

Monday was perhaps the most difficult day for Bob McDonnell. He was on the stand all day and for the first time was not asked questions by HIS attorneys.
After Mrs. McDonnell’s lawyer Bill Burke asked about an hour worth of questions — it was prosecutor Michael Dry’s turn.

Dry did not even say good morning to Bob McDonnell before taking a sip of water and commencing his grilling of Virginia’s 71st Governor.

Dry listed off several of the major gifts that have been highlighted in this case — including the Ferrari ride. McDonnell did not deny accepting any of the gifts Dry mentioned.

“I’ve been preparing every day since you indicted me,” McDonnell told Dry.

Dry spent a great deal of time trying to undermine the defense’s idea that the McDonnell marriage was broken.

Dry showed McDonnell the 18 trips he and his wife took in a 22 month time span — including holidays to Virginia Beach, the Homestead, Miami, Florida, National Harbor, Camp Pendleton, and Kiawah Island.

Dry asked McDonnell how much of the $23,000 dollar Kiawah Island vacation he paid for.

“About $1500,” McDonnell responded — saying it was a gift from a personal friend.

When Dry asked McDonnell to name the children of that “personal friend,” McDonnell could not.

Also getting in on the action — Judge James Spencer who on multiple occassions asked McDonnell to directly answer the questions concisely and not elaborate.

At the end of the day Judge James Spencer said.

“Maybe it’s just me but does this seem like the longest day in the world.”
McDonnell also admitted that his wife had  a history of asking “inappropriate things” to wealthy friends and donors.
When asked if Dry was close to being finished with Governor Bob McDonnell Monday, Dry told the judge “no” which means McDonnell will be back on the stand for a fifth day Tuesday.

Below is my 6pm report.See you for Day 22 on Tuesday

JSG

Nick Dutton August 25, 20146:24 pm

Here’s Joe’s report from CBS 6 News at 6 p.m.

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Bob McDonnell’s attorneys wrapped up questioning Friday as the fourth week of the federal corruption trial came to a close.

On the stand, McDonnell told jurors, “I don’t blame my wife” even though he also testified that a lot of the gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams were given to the first lady without his knowledge.

McDonnell testified he misjudged Williams’ motives and that the most important gift he ever received was “time with my family.” That’s why he said he accepted Williams’ generosity.

Maureen McDonnell’s attorneys will begin questioning the former governor Monday and then cross examination by the prosecution will begin.

9 comments

  • Becky

    Super hyped, hysterical, frenzied productions presented by Governing Media “Advertising Agency” for new era sleaze as politically correct and preferred Governance. Much like the MTV productions; for your viewing entertainment. That’s Entertainment! How many years now has their long running
    Soap Opera Production been telecasting. They will bestow an Award upon themselves.

  • Becky

    Public Broadcasting Stations now finds it absolutely imperative to resort to their own selected coverage, their one-way only feeds, to provide solely for Their Will, Their Way; without Public Say just exactly like the local, state, and federal governments they sponsor, promote, and endorse.
    Political gains, advantages and positioning usurps their Public Broadcasting responsibilities
    and obligations to the Public and Public Trust, as covered under Federal FCC Laws, rules, and
    requirements. Kick out Journalism 101, and those codes of ethics, standards, and principles, too.
    See, Transparently.

  • Joey B

    Good grief, so sick of so much ranting gibberish by Becky. Is she presently residing in a mental institution?

  • Becky

    WTVR will open up for site against those we “don’t like”, and hide, profile and protect the ones we
    do “Like”.

  • John Q Citizen

    I have noticed Catholic Priests escorting both Bob and Maureen into court everyday. They make a habit of making sure they appear in all the camera shots. I have a speeding ticket trial coming up next month. Anyone know how I can hire a Catholic priest to accompany me to court everyday, sit behind me supportively, comfort me, and make uninformed comments to the press during my trial? I would be willing to donate to their parish, but need to know what is the price for each level of service. I wonder if they publish a menu with associated prices… Just wondering.

  • RB

    NOT GUILTY. Just want to see it in all caps myself because the “journalists” out there won’t be reporting this story if so. You probably won’t hear a word. Nothing. Jennifer’s and Ms. Upton’s current lamaise will be headlining for sure. Not this story. Count on it.

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