VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WRIC) — “He called me five minutes after his call, 1:45 and he said the words I have been waiting for and that is ‘it’s over.'”
That’s what former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell told 8News’ Parker Slaybaugh on Monday about the moment he found out the U.S. Supreme Court threw out his corruption case, meaning he would not be re-tried.
McDonnell met Slaybaugh inside of his new Virginia Beach offices for the small business he and his sister have started.
“It was February 15th of 2013, a Friday night, I’ll never forget it my wife told me, because she had been interviewed and it just ripped my heart out.” Bob McDonnell.
Nothing was off limits — from the trial, his marriage, his new found freedom, and even if he sees a future in politics for himself.
On January 21, 2014, Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen stepped to the podium to address felony indictments that had just been filed against him.
“I come before you this evening as someone who has been falsely and wrongfully accused,” he said on that January day.
Since that day — 31 months ago– McDonnell has never talked publically about the charges, the trial, and his acquittal, until now.
“It was February 15th of 2013, a Friday night, I’ll never forget it my wife told me, because she had been interviewed and it just ripped my heart out,” he explained.
He says that’s when he learned he and his family were under a federal investigation. Rumors of a possible federal indictment against a sitting governor started to swirl.
“I know they really wanted to have an indictment during the time that I was governor, sitting governor is maybe a better story than a former governor.” He explained. “I really can’t tell you all the government’s motivations but I am just going to assume they were doing their job.”
“The kids being dragged before a grand jury having to get their own lawyers, being uncomfortable talking to their parents. It was just horrific and the divisions in my family my staff and friends.” — Bob McDonnell
Eventually headlines changed to a possible plea offer.
“Well, obviously those discussions happened, some of them were reported on the front page of the Washington Post, after very private meetings in which we were sure there would be confidentiality,” he said. “I mean there were multiple inappropriate leaks from the government during this case, which is highly disappointing but I told them from the very beginning I will never plea guilty to anything.”
The indictment came in January 2014; seven months later Bob and Maureen McDonnell stood trial.
Rarely seen together at court, their defense was a broken marriage caused bad decisions, which lead to Johnnie Williams showering them with more than $170,000 in gifts and loans.
But, the McDonnell’s claimed nothing was illegal.
McDonnell says the trial took a toll on his family.
“The kids being dragged before a grand jury having to get their own lawyers, being uncomfortable talking to their parents,” he said. “It was just horrific and the divisions in my family my staff and friends.”
The verdict came nine months later — guilty of 11 counts, his wife guilty of eight.
“Of course, the worse day was September 4th 2014 and hearing those guilty verdicts coming in and I wept,” he explained. “I knew it was wrong but yet I knew this was my new burden for some foreseeable time.”
It would be two years later until McDonnell was cleared and all threat of a prosecution gone. The title of convicted felon removed.