- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2014

RICHMOND — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Friday he did not commit any crimes while governor and that he is “absolutely” innocent.

Mr. McDonnell said he blames “in part” businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for the predicament he’s in but that he does not blame his wife, Maureen, with whom he has been accused of conspiring to help Mr. Williams and his company.

“I hold myself accountable,” Mr. McDonnell said, adding the most important gift he got during his stint in office was time with his family.

The proclamations came as Mr. McDonnell’s defense attorney, Henry “Hank” Asbill, wrapped up his direct examination of the former governor Friday, which concluded the fourth week of the McDonnells’ public corruption trial.

They have been accused of accepting more than $170,000 in gifts and loans from Mr. Williams in exchange for using the governor’s office to promote Mr. Williams’ business interests.

The McDonnells also face charges of making false statements on bank loan applications for not including loans from Mr. Williams, and Mrs. McDonnell is facing an obstruction charge.

Earlier Friday, Mr. McDonnell testified that he did not include $70,000 in loans from Mr. Williams to a real estate company run by him and his sister because the loans went to a corporation and were not personal ones. He also said he did not include a $50,000 loan Mr. Williams had given to his wife because it was her own personal liability.

He said that he was “absolutely not” trying to mislead the bank or conceal his relationship with Mr. Williams or his company, Star Scientific.

He also said he was not trying to be deceptive when in early 2013 he initially omitted $120,000 in liabilities — the loans from Mr. Williams — and then re-submitted the corrected forms after investigators had started questioning his wife.

“There were a number of omissions that I corrected later on,” he said.

The omissions for that particular bank application also included $250,000 in assets such as his car, retirement and life insurance plans, and $3,000 worth of stock in Mr. Williams’ company, Star Scientific.

He acknowledged those assets and liabilities weren’t on drafts of the forms he filled out before his wife was interviewed by investigators on Feb. 15, 2013. But he said he thought it was going to be a process with multiple drafts and that he did not try to deceive the bank in that case, either.

In the end, Mr. McDonnell said Friday, he “misjudged” Mr. Williams, who has been granted immunity in exchange for testifying in the trial.

“I thought he was a true friend,” he said.

Mr. McDonnell, in his testimony, has catalogued a host of dealings between Mr. Williams and his wife that he only learned about after the fact, such as a $20,000 shopping spree in New York and a $6,500 Rolex watch from Mr. Williams that Mr. McDonnell said he thought was a gift from his wife.

He also testified that his life in public office put a tremendous strain on his marriage and that he and his wife have not been staying together during the trial. Defense lawyers have argued that the McDonnells’ crumbling marriage would have precluded them from conspiring together to help Mr. Williams.

Mr. McDonnell, though, said that “I don’t blame my wife” for what has happened.

In your heart, in your mind, Mr. Asbill asked him, are you innocent?

“Absolutely,” Mr. McDonnell said. “I know that in my heart.”



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