Judge changes ruling in former Governor Bob McDonnell case

Posted at 3:28 PM, Feb 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-03 19:10:01-05

Richmond, Va. - We've learned new details in the federal case against former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen.

They were back in court on Monday in Richmond where they won a small victory.

The McDonnell’s arrived at court asking for something seemingly simple – the be able to talk to people, including family members.

But in the high pressure environment of a 14-count federal indictment, nothing is simple.

The judge in the case had initially told the McDonnell’s not to have any contact with witnesses. Today he said they could, as long as they don’t talk about anything “substantive” concerning the case.

He told one of Bob McDonnell’s attorneys, “It seems to me you might be the only criminal defense lawyer in history who wants his client to talk.”

McDonnell’s lawyer argued that “This case is all about the family members and their friends and their support system.”

He claimed he was worried the McDonnell’s would be caught in a “Gotcha game” by the government prosecutors.

Those prosecutors are trying to prove that McDonnell used his office to benefit Jonnie Williams, a wealthy supporter who lavished the couple with gifts and loans to support their real estate investments in Sandbridge.

Court filings revealed the McDonnell’s were under severe financial pressure.

In one email, Maureen McDonnell wrote to one of the governor’s staff members, “We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt.”

While granting the McDonnell’s a small victory, the judge also issued a warning, telling the McDonnell’s if they violate any rules on obstructing justice, they could end up behind bars.