Explosive email released, Gov. McDonnell defense blames wife for gifts

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - McDonnell defense attorneys released a series of personal notes and emails between former First Lady Maureen McDonnell and Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Friday, in an effort to show the two shared a close relationship.

The most notable email came at the close of cross examination by Maureen McDonnell's defense, in which attorney William Burck produced a message from Mrs. McDonnell to Williams on the day of the 2011 Virginia Earthquake.

On two LCD screens above the courtroom, the email sent by Mrs. McDonnell read, "I just felt the EARTH MOVE AND I WASN'T HAVING SEX!!!!"

The email was introduced along with phone records from April 2011 to Feb. 2013, indicating that the two exchanged more than 1,200 texts or calls. In comparison, Burck pointed out Williams and former Governor McDonnell exchanged 60 texts or calls during the same time period.

"Irrespective of whether [the relationship] was romantic or not, it was closer than a traditional CEO relationship with the First Lady of Virginia," said former U.S. Assistant Attorney Chuck James in an interview Friday. "It also shows a level of familiarity that may not be consistent with that of a happily married woman."

Williams repeatedly answered no to all questions concerning whether or not the two were romantically involved. The claim was central to the narrative from the defense during opening statements.

"Most, if not all of those texts were about business," Williams said. "I never discussed her personal life with her, it was all business."

The defense did not disclose the contents of the multitude of text messages, with 10 being sent between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. on May 25, 2011. Williams disputed the accuracy of the records showing the early morning communications.

Attorneys for former Governor McDonnell quickly moved to establish that the governor was in the dark concerning lavish gifts, putting the blame for them squarely on Maureen McDonnell.

"My client never thanked you for the $20,000 worth of stuff purchased on the New York shopping spree," said McDonnell attorney Hank Asbill. Williams responded, "Now that would be awkward… No."

Asbill also brought up the infamous Rolex watch, with Williams testifying that Maureen McDonnell specifically asked for the gift, unbeknownst to the governor. The line of questioning was also extended to Williams' lake house and Ferrari, with Williams saying he offered them to McDonnell without the governor asking.

Williams also revealed Friday that investigators asked him to wear a wire during the early stages of the criminal probe, in order to record his conversations with McDonnell.

"I stopped the meeting right then," Williams said. "I felt the governor was in trouble and I could be too."

Cross examination also revealed the government first granted Williams immunity in July 2013, six months before the McDonnells were indicted.

After Williams received immunity, Burck asserted Williams's story changed when he told investigators that Maureen McDonnell alone offered to help him, in exchange for receiving loans.

"I'm sorry, I just can't recall saying that," William responded.

Williams testified that he was not truthful with the FBI when the investigation started, and could not remember specific information he divulged during several interviews.

Williams returns to the witness stand Monday for the second week of the McDonnell trial, when cross examination is expected to conclude. The government will then have an opportunity for re-direct questions.

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