Shortly after the 2013 election the future for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) looked encouraging. It seemed the worst was behind him. He was energized and prepared to close out his term strong. Public opinion polls showed him to be popular with voters. The governor was criss-crossing the state, appearing on cable news programs and resolute in his belief that despite an intense federal investigation, he had not broken the law.
It seemed that the worst was behind him.
A bombshell story by the Washington Post reveals the governor's legal troubles are far from over.
Here is a portion of the report by Roz Helderman, Carol Leonning and Sari Horwitz.
Federal prosecutors told Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell last week that he and his wife would be charged in connection with a gift scandal, but senior Justice Department officials delayed the decision after the McDonnells’ attorneys made a face-to-face appeal in Washington, according to people familiar with the case.
Dana J. Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told the McDonnells’ legal teams that he planned to ask a grand jury to return an indictment no later than this past Monday, people familiar with the conversations said.
McDonnell (R) and his wife, Maureen, would have been charged with working together to illegally promote a struggling dietary-supplement company in exchange for gifts and loans from its chief executive, the people said.
The plan to seek the felony charges this week changed, however, after attorneys for the state’s first couple met with Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole on Dec. 12.
The attorneys argued that the governor had done nothing improper to assist businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. In particular, they focused on the credibility of a key witness, said a person familiar with the presentation. They also argued that if prosecutors proceeded with charges, they should wait until after McDonnell left office Jan. 11 to allow a smooth transition of power to Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe (D).
..read the full Washington Post story here.
The news came as a bit of a surprise given the timing of the end of McDonnell's term and his resiliency related to the investigation. Just a week and half ago, McDonnell told me that he wasn't sure when the process would come to an end.
"I thought it should've been resolved months and months ago. But I cannot control that," McDonnell said. "Listen, I have a lot of faith in God, I have a lot of faith in the justice system, I’ve been a prosecutor, I’ve been the Attorney General. I know how these cases work, but these are decisions up to other people."
According to the Post it was just a few days later that prosecutors informed the McDonnell and his wife that they were facing an indictment. In our conversation the governor remained confident that he did nothing wrong. He said Star-Scientific received no special treatment from the Governor's office or anyone in his administration.
“Whether it is the homeless shelters or the food banks or whether it is Dominion Virginia power or Star Scientific, everyone gets a fair shake when it comes to getting meetings or talking to people in government,” McDonnell said.
I talked about what the future holds for McDonnell Thursday morning on 12 News Today: