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Emotional Testimony Reveals Intimate Details of McDonnell Marriage

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) - Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell expressed deep emotions while testifying about the state of his marriage on the stand in federal court Thursday morning.

Attorneys started by asking Bob if he would have a hard time talking about his marriage. He said yes, "very, very difficult" and that he had always kept close to himself about his finances and marriage. The attorney then asked him if he is okay to talk about it. McDonnell responded, "I feel I have to talk about it in light of these charges brought."

McDonnell went through a long timeline of events and shared experiences with Maureen.

Bob started by saying that when he first asked Maureen out she said no several times, but that "he persevered."

McDonnell said that trouble started brewing between the couple in the early 90's, when he became more of a senior member of the General Assembly. He said that during this time he spent well over 100 days away from home, which was more than normal. He said that during this time, the nature of communication between he and Maureen was more over the phone rather than in person. He said that in the mid 1990's, the tension and anxiety between the two of them continued to grow, and they argued more frequently.

Bob said that Maureen had wanted a relationship, not to just talk about kids and logistics. He said that, "Maureen was a mom and she did it very well."

McDonnell said that during his campaign for Attorney General, Maureen didn't like the glare she received from being in the public eye.

He testified that during the campaign for governor, Maureen went through two or three personal staff members and that the staff often reported yelling. Janet Kelly told Bob that she couldn't work with Maureen if she were hired. He said he was "really hurt and disappointed."

McDonnell said that Maureen wanted to use his gubernatorial campaign donor list to help her nutraceutical business. When he became governor, Bob said that he told Maureen he thought it wasn't appropriate for her to be selling the vitamin products anymore and that the business created too many conflicts.

Bob McDonnell then talked about Maureen's inaugural dress; he said that he and Maureen had a "couple of unpleasant conversations about that." The attorney then asked Bob McDonnell if there was yelling during this time, to which he responded, "yes." McDonnell was then asked if the yelling was on Maureen's part or his own. He said, "I don't typically yell at anyone."

McDonnell said that he told his wife, "you can't treat our staff like that, I don't treat my staff like that. You've got to love them."

The former governor also spoke about Maureen's loss of her father and how it badly affected her temperament. He said that 2010 was very hard for Maureen with the loss of her dad and that at one point, he remembered her saying, "I feel like an orphan... both parents are gone."

Bob said that Maureen "sobbed for weeks about her dad," and that the loss "took wind out of her sails."

McDonnell said that he decided to put time on his calendar for lunches with Maureen a few times a month, but he was often late or cancelled them. He said that Maureen told him that he put his job over her. The attorney asked him, "did you?"McDonnell hesitated and softly said, "I did."

Bob then talked about a letter the mansion staff drafted to Maureen, threatening to quit. He said that he was surprised by the letter and that he is a "pretty strong guy but, but that was a lot... I had a lot on my plate." He described the first lady's office as a disaster and "constant chaos." He said that on top of these issues, he was dealing with the budget, gridlock in the G.A., his father's estate, his sister's divorce, helping Mitt Romney and the Republican Governors Association. Bob said that the first lady would ask him to help edit her speeches and that he turned her away, saying, she has a Chief of Staff and a speech writer to do that for her.

McDonnell said that he was emotionally unavailable to Maureen at this point. McDonnell admitted about his wife, "I wasn't very good with her... I pushed her away."

An already emotionally revealing testimony was unraveling, but it's only the beginning. What came out next on the stand from Bob McDonnell was intimate.




McDonnell said that he had taken the weekend off to spend time together and that Maureen didn't engage with him. He said that he ended up spending Saturday apart from his wife.

McDonnell said at this time he thought, "maybe this was the end of our marriage, maybe we were done."

McDonnell said he sent Maureen an email on Monday. McDonnell said that he felt the need to send the email because Maureen had made "threats to wreck my things."

In it, he asked for forgiveness for anything he had done to hurt her. He continued, "I am so spiritually and mentally exhausted from being yelled at..."




When asked if he ever get a response from the email, McDonnell said no. He later learned that Maureen had contacted Jonnie Williams four times that day.

McDonnell switched gears then, and began to speak about Jonnie Williams. "I liked him," he said. He said that his initial impression was that Williams was a "Virginia business guy who had ideas about creating jobs."

When asked about the idea of Jonnie Williams buying Maureen an inauguration dress, he said that he didn't think it was a good idea. McDonnell said that Maureen was mad about the dress and sent Phil Cox, his campaign manager, an email saying he wasn't looking out for Bob's best interests.

"I was furious with Maureen," said McDonnell about the email. He claimed Phil Cox as one of his most loyal staffers.

The questioning moved on to the NYC shopping trip and event. McDonnell said that he knew Mary Shea and Maureen were shopping, and that he was under the impression that Williams was showing them around. He said he never knew Williams was paying for the dresses, and never knew he bought them until after the investigation broke; Williams never mentioned the $20,000 shopping spree while at the NYC event that same evening, when Williams sat at McDonnell's table.

McDonnell was asked if the shopping trip was what resulted in Williams sitting at his table. He said no, that Williams was at the table because he was the largest donor to his campaign.

McDonnell said he is no longer living at home with his wife, that he has moved in with a priest.



Stay with 8News for the latest on this story as we provide continuing coverage. Follow 8News reporters Mark Tenia and Parker Slaybaugh on Twitter for up-to-the minute updates live from the courthouse.

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