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McDonnell's Time On The Stand Ends With A Bang In Corruption Trial

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell finished his time on the stand Tuesday, in what was expected to be the trial's dramatic peak.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell finished his time on the stand Tuesday, in what was expected to be the trial's dramatic peak.

U.S. Attorney Michael Dry has finished his cross-examination of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in the ongoing corruption trial in Richmond.

In a dramatic closing to two days of cross examination and four days on the stand, the prosecutor entered his final piece of evidence to the court. It was a copy of the McDonnell's inaugural speech, in which the governor said, "We live in the most generous nation on Earth. So many Virginians give sacrificially of their time, talents and treasure, and rightly so. The Scriptures say, 'To whom much is given, much will be required.'"

Then the prosecutor turned his attention to the governor and asked if former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams gave $177,000 in gifts and loans. After a pause, the governor said yes.

The dramatic conclusion put an end to the grilling of McDonnell by the U.S. Attorney, who says Williams was not so much a personal friend to McDonnell as he was a source of cash. McDonnell repeatedly pushed back, testifying he came to see Williams as a friend, and that he provided nothing more than constituent service to Williams.

"The rest of the trial is about fighting about what already happened," says Michael Levy, a white collar defense attorney. "You've now heard far and away the two most important parts of the trial, the testimony and cross examination of Jonnie Williams and the testimony and cross examination of Governor McDonnell."

The governor ended his time witness stand by emphatically denying all the charges prosecutors have brought against him. McDonnell acknowledged using poor judgment, but responded with a firm "no" when his lawyer asked if he risked his political future and his family by doing what he's accused of in a 14-count indictment.

"Everything else about the trial is going to be arguing about which one of those carries more weight with the jury," Levy says.

The trial is now in week five, an unprecedented public corruption case that has targeted the former governor for selling his office for luxury gifts and travel accommodations. So what's next for the trial?

"Anything after the governor is theater," says Rich Kelsey, assistant dean of the George Mason School of Law. "Although it could make news, right? For example you could get some national figure come in and testify and that would certainly give us something to talk about. But what's the effect on the jury? Not much."

Closing arguments could take place as early as tomorrow.

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