Federal prosecutors in Virginia are laying out their case that former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen engaged in a corrupt scheme to help a Virginia businessman in exchange for money and gifts. But to buy that argument, jurors will need to connect the dots.
Prosecutors have already warned jurors they lack a singular piece of evidence tying their case together, and testimony this week showed why that's the case. Health Secretary Bill Hazel took the stand to outline his meeting with Jonnie Williams, which prosecutors say was part of a corrupt bargain.
"The defense is arguing that the mere fact that the governor or the first lady encouraged state officials to attend meetings is not enough," says white collar defense attorney Michael Levy. "Ultimately the question is whether or not simply arranging a meeting for somebody is enough to constitute an official act and whether or not the jury believes that official act was done in exchange for the gifts given to the governor and his wife."
Jurors also heard from Sarah Scarbrough, former director of the Governor's Mansion. She said the McDonnells seemed very much in love, undercutting the governments theory that their marriage had dissolved to the point where the two could not conspire. She also testified that Maureen McDonnell was "sneaky" and frequently yelling at staff.
"So far, what the government has done best is that they've made a very strong case that Mrs. McDonnell is an unpleasant person," says Rich Kelsey, assistant dean at the George Mason law school. "But what they've really done more than anything else is that they've dropped more dots into this case and they've drawn fewer lines to connect them."
The trial is expected to last three more weeks.