McDonnell Trial begins today- what to watch - WFSB 3 Connecticut

McDonnell Trial begins today- what to watch


It's no exaggeration to say history is about to unfold Monday in Downtown Richmond. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen are set to go on trial, fighting corruption charges and battling to save their futures in politics.

It's a trial that in all likelihood will last until the beginning of September. But what are the main things to watch for as the First Couple fights for its freedom?

The proceedings are set to begin in a few hours, with 100 people heading into court with the former Governor for jury selection.

"McDonnell's fate could be sealed if he gets the wrong jury," NBC12 Political Analyst Paul Goldman said. Goldman is no stranger to the political realm, helping to elect former Gov. Doug Wilder.

One question that has yet to be answered is whether the jury will be sequestered, cut off from the news crews already gathered outside Richmond Federal Court. Once the jury is picked, Goldman said all eyes will be on Jonnie Williams, the prosecution's star witness.

"Is he Jonnie the rat, ratting out the governor to save his own skin? Or did he in fact have a deal with the Governor?" Goldman said.

The former First Couple is accused of accepting $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams, who has immunity in this case. In exchange, the government says the McDonnells helped Williams launch his new diet pill. But Goldman says Williams is a scammer, investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and jurors may not trust him on the stand.

"Williams could sell snow to the Eskimos, no question. But I just have a hard time believing his story," Goldman said. "And to put somebody in jail on Jonnie Williams' testimony, if that's what they wind up having in the end, I couldn't do it."

The next person to watch on the stand is the former Governor himself. He's rehearsed his testimony for weeks, but cross examination is expected to be a battle. And although she's at the center of this case, there is  no indication that the Governor's wife will also take the stand.

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