As the McDonnell trial wraps up its second week of squirm inducing testimony, folks I’ve talked to about the defense are coming to a similar conclusion: they don’t get it.
Those of us who have been around Richmond have heard the rumors about Maureen McDonnell. And we’ve heard one or two about Bob as well. The rumors about Maureen are making it into the record, providing reams of good copy for the press and some very pointed commentary.
Such as this from Paul Goldman:
…it is increasingly clear Maureen McDonnell has no defenders in the courtroom including her own lawyer. Things are so bad for Mrs. McDonnell that her husband, when no one was looking, snuck out of the courtroom yesterday to hug a prosecution witness. Bob McDonnell embraced the former chief of staff to the first lady, who spent the afternoon trashing her former boss as unfit, unstable and unbearable.
Yesterday wasn’t a criminal trial but rather another day in an increasingly nasty divorce proceeding. If yesterday proved anything, it proved the following: there is a reason Mrs. McDonnell felt lonely and abandoned in her role as First Lady.
And the reason? Because the men in her life did throw her into the shark tank with one of the premier sharks in America and left her to Jonnie Williams’ devices. Governor McDonnell had an obligation to protect his wife from Williams. He didn’t for his own reasons.
Which include saving his own hide.
Then there was this Melinda Hennenberger in the Washington Post:
On the 40th anniversary of the Watergate scandal, Maureen McDonnell is in some ways a modern-day Martha Mitchell — the designated crazy lady who’s supposed to take the blame. Richard Nixon even said there would have been no Watergate without Martha, on the theory that she’d “distracted” her husband, Attorney General John Mitchell, from keeping the administration out of trouble. (Although, unlike Maureen McDonnell, all Martha Mitchell wanted was to tell the truth, in late-night calls to reporters, the Nixon White House nevertheless succeeded in painting her as a gauche and delusional big spender with a mouth to match. Sound at all familiar?)
Yes it does.
But as Paul also writes, the “crazy wife” defense is both insulting and degrading — not just to Maureen, but to her husband, who comes off looking cold, mercenary, yet also a cuckold.
The jury may see things differently and we can be sure that the jury consultants are wondering how the women on the panel will react to the McDonnells’ strategy.
We’ve been told that Bob McDonnell will take the stand. Given what has already been spilled across the courtroom, his testimony will be riveting.
Our own Chris Saxman was on air with WRVA’s Jimmy Barrett to discuss the trial today. You can hear that interview below:
And, of course, there’s also this…