Star Scientific Jonnie Williams is on the stand again this morning.
Cross examination continued this morning after a whirlwind of details came out in yesterday’s session. Already, updates are pouring into our newsroom.
The testimony from Jonnie Williams today has been partly focused on test message and phone call records between him and former first lady Maureen McDonnell.
On May 25th, 2011, phone records provided by the prosecution show that Williams and Maureen texted from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. Williams claims the records are wrong. The records also show that in a year and a half, Williams and Maureen had exchanged 1200 texts and phone calls. Williams says 95-98% of the exchanges were strictly business, no relationship involved.
The day the earthquake hit Louisa in 2011, you may recall it was felt all throughout central Virginia. On this day, phone records indicate Maureen sent a particularly interesting text message to Williams.
Maureen’s defense attorney, William Burck, then asked Williams about an interview he had with Virginia State Police in January 2013. Williams admitted that he told police he did not get anything in return for a $50,000 loan he had given to Bob McDonnell. In that interview, Williams called McDonnell his friend and said that they liked to play golf together. Williams also told police that McDonnell was the best governor Virginia had ever had and that he never asked nor expected anything in return from McDonnell. Williams also said in that interview that he told the former governor to repay the loan when the real estate situation improved.
In that same January 2013 meeting, VSP asked Williams if he would be willing to wear a wire to record conversations he had with McDonnell. Williams said he immediately stopped the meeting. When asked why he stopped, he said, “The governor could be in trouble, and I could be too.”
In a July 2013 interview that Williams had with the FBI, he admitted he told FBI that he told the former governor he would loan money for 2 years at a 5% rate. Williams also said that the former governor asked about paperwork for the loan, but that he told McDonnell that “a handshake” was the law in Virginia.
Maureen’s defense attorney is attempting to highlight the inconsistencies that have appeared in Williams testimony over time.
Today, a lot of Williams’ responses to the defense have been, “I don’t recall.” When asked about the details of the meetings he had with prosecutors as recent as this past Sunday, Williams said, “I don’t recall.”
The defense then began to question Williams in regards to the shopping trip he took Maureen McDonnell on. The defense asked Williams, despite having prior access to the former governor, that if he felt it was still necessary to take the former first lady on a shopping spree. Williams then admitted that he had flown with the governor and gotten him to show up at an event prior the the shopping trip.
Now, Bob McDonnell’s lawyer is at the stand questioning Jonnie Williams, where he began questioning to learn more about the shopping spree Williams took Maureen on them.
McDonnell’s attorney asked Williams if McDonnell knew about the trip – Williams said that no, as far as he knew, McDonnell did not know, even though they sat together at an event in New York that day.
Williams was then asked about a $12 million loan and stocks he received from a friend. He was asked if he broke any of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission laws, or if he deliberately tried to avoid them. His response: “I don’t recall.”
On Thursday, Williams’ testimony was partly focused on grant applications for research he wanted for his company. Williams said the former governor encouraged him to apply for grants. Williams was asked if the governor guaranteed anything if he had applied for the grants, but Williams said that he didn’t.
Williams was also questioned about gifts he gave the McDonnells, including the infamous Rolex watch and Ferrari, which the McDonnells have been seen sitting behind the wheel of in evidence photos released to the public.
The Rolex watch that Williams gave Bob McDonnell was a big subject in questioning on Thursday.
The prosecution asked Williams if he wanted people to know he had bought the watch for the former governor. Williams replied, “No, I thought it was a bad idea… I should not have to buy things like that to get the help I needed.”
Williams went on to say that he knew buying the watch “was a mistake” and that he knew “my decision was wrong.”
Stay with 8News for continuing coverage on this case. We will provide any new updates throughout the day online and on air.
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