After the surprising opening statements from Robert and Maureen McDonnell’s defense teams, the prosecution’s “star” witness Jonnie Williams Sr. took the stand and refuted all claims suggesting that the relationship between him and Maureen was anything beyond a business relationship.
Contrary to the argument made by the former governor’s attorney, The Washington Times reports that Williams claims to have never made any “business” arrangements without Robert McDonnell being informed, insisting “[Bob McDonnell] was the breadwinner in the house, and I’m not writing his wife any check without him knowing about it.”
During his questioning, Williams discussed his reason for allowing the McDonnells to use his private jet by stressing how common it is for Virginia businessmen to seek out mutually beneficial relationships with politically influential people like the McDonnells. He argued, “If you’re a Virginia company, you want to make sure you have access to these people. And the airplane accomplishes that.”
Despite being written off as a manipulative salesman looking for a way out of a different criminal charge by McDonnell’s defense lawyers, Williams did his best to portray himself as a focused and driven entrepreneur, simply determined to find that final push for his company, Star Scientific. Court adjourned before Williams was done being questioned by prosecution and scheduled to resume Thursday morning.
Thursday, Williams was questioned for almost six hours, during which he consistently emphasized that the relationship with the McDonnells was strictly for business purposes. According to The Washington Post, William Burke, Maureen McDonnell’s lead defense attorney, “seemed to want to show jurors that the businessman was a braggart who was not shy about making outlandish assertions.”
Williams continues to deny any intimate or emotional involvement with Maureen McDonnell, although he does admit that he “felt sorry for her.” Legal analysts believe that Jonnie Williams Sr.’s testimony will be the most important component for the prosecution in this case.