Former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia began his second day of testimony on Thursday seemingly holding back tears as he conceded to his lawyer that detailing the woes of his 38-year marriage was “going to be hard.”
But with his defense on public corruption charges depending in large part on proving that his relationship with his wife was too dysfunctional to support a conspiracy to trade gifts for favors, Mr. McDonnell spent an excruciating day describing how his marriage unraveled around him while gifts from a favored donor endlessly flowed in to cushion the blows.
Mr. McDonnell, who was once considered a serious contender for the White House, was reduced to describing his life of missed dinners, perfunctory conversations about child rearing, and fights over credit card debt and a stock purchase gone sour with his wife, Maureen, all punctuated by high-end outings at the behest of Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a businessman that Mr. McDonnell would later learn spent hours on the phone with his wife.
“I was actually hurt,” said Mr. McDonnell, in one of many confessions that seemed culled from Oprah’s couch. “The minutes were more than she talked to me.”
The McDonnells have sat nearly adjacent to each other every day in court, barely exchanging glances. They are now living apart; he has said he is staying with his parish priest to avoid a nightly rehashing of the trial.
Mr. McDonnell testified that his wife, who looked on impassively, grew further and further apart from him as he climbed from the state legislature to attorney general to finally governor over two decades.
His wife told him, “You put your job over time with me,” he said. “I did.”
In the governor’s mansion, he said, she was increasingly volatile toward members of her staff, abused his campaign donor lists to help her vitamin business and was emotionally estranged from him. The former governor said that it was “exceeding my skill set” to manage Ms. McDonnell’s problems with her staff members at the governor’s mansion, who threatened to quit en masse.
The nadir of their marital relations came during Labor Day weekend in 2011, when he returned from an official trip to spend time with his wife and was met with hostility, he said. In an email made public in court, Mr. McDonnell pleaded with her to help repair the marriage but conceded: “I am spiritually and mentally exhausted from being yelled at. I don’t think you realize how you are affecting me and sometimes others with your tongue.”
Still, the troubles continued in 2012, he said, with partisan fighting in the state legislature making budgeting difficult. Adding to the workload, he said, was his increasingly stressful schedule with the Republican Governors Association, which wanted him to raise $55 million, and his work for the Romney presidential campaign. A letter from his wife’s staff in which members were threatening to quit was like fuel on an inferno. “I’m a pretty strong guy,” he said. “But that was a lot.”
Source: The New York Times |