Facing corruption charges, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell characterized his marriage in stunningly bleak terms, taking the witness stand for a second consecutive day to discuss a marriage that, as he describes it, was filled with yelling, unpleasantness, and distance.
McDonnell is on trial in Virginia over gifts his family received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, who has testified that he believes he was granted access and a platform at the governor’s mansion to promote a nutritional supplement, in exchange for gifts that included a $20,000 shopping spree for Maureen McDonnell, the governor’s wife, and $15,000 for the wedding catering of the McDonnell’s daughter, Cailin. The total amount of lavish gifts, vacations, and cash loans is at least $165,000.
A deterioriated marriage and evidence of emotional distance is a key to McDonnell’s defense, which has contended that Bob and Maureen McDonnell were too far separated by marital differences to have collaborated on a quid pro quo for Williams in exchange for his gifts.
Leaving the jury--and the public--with only one side of the story, Maureen McDonnell has not testified in her husband's trial and likely will not.
In his testimony, McDonnell spoke of a marriage that had been strained by years of his public-service career, underlined by fits of anger and yelling by his wife, whom advisers suggested should seek emotional help but who was unwilling to pursue that option. Things got so bad, McDonnell said, that he began working late purposefully to avoid his wife.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult,” McDonnell said at the beginning of the day’s testimony, according to The Washington Post. “It’s going to be hard for me to talk about.”
It was revealed that McDonnell wrote an emotional letter to his wife in September, 2011, which went unreturned, where he admitted that, "I am lonely sometimes."
It read, in part:
I love you. Yesterday was one on (sic) the lowest points in my life. We have had a very hard year emotionally, despite a wonderful anniversary celebration. You are my soulmate. I love being married to you and having a family. We have shared much good life together (sic). I have made plenty of mistakes in my life which I wish I could fix. I am sorry for all the times I have not been there for you and have done things to hurt you. I know I am a sinner and keep trying to do better. But I am completely at a loss as to how to handle the fiery anger and hate from you that has become more and more frequent. You told me again yesterday that you would wreck my things and how bad I am. It hurt me to my core. I have asked and prayed to God so many times to take this anger away from you and heal whatever hurt is causing it...
The letter has been entered into evidence but is not yet publicly available. The above text was reported by The Washington Post.
Asked by his attorney about the current state of his marriage, McDonnell reportedly said it was "on hold." He does not believe his wife had a physical affair with Williams, McDonnell reportedly said, and he revealed he moved out of his family's home in suburban Richmond before the trial and is living with his parish priest in the St. Patrick's Church rectory.