Virginia ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell reflected candidly on his apparently troubled marriage from the witness stand Thursday, acknowledging that he put his relationship with his wife “on hold” while in the governor’s mansion.
McDonnell and his wife are facing federal corruption charges that stem from over $165,000 in gifts and loans they accepted from wealthy Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams. The couple’s defense lawyers are trying to show that their marriage was so strained that the two couldn’t have conspired to use the power of the governor’s office to promote Williams’ dietary supplements company in exchange for those gifts.
McDonnell testified that communication with his wife Maureen became increasingly strained in 2011 as she complained about their staff, according to the Washington Post. As a result, the governor said he would work until the first lady was asleep and otherwise avoided contact.
Here’s more of McDonnell’s testimony from the Post:
“I remember telling Maureen, ‘I can’t deal with this. We’ve got great staff. We’ve got great people.’…I couldn’t come home to listen to that,” Bob McDonnell told jurors.
“Is it fair to say that for those four years, you put your marriage on hold?” defense attorney Henry Asbill asked.
McDonnell paused. “Yes,” he said. “I just couldn’t make progress.”
A consultant brought in to manage the tension between the first lady and Executive Mansion staff, James Burke, testified Wednesday that he had suggested to McDonnell that his ‘possibly’ depressed wife limit her time in the mansion or get counseling.
McDonnell acknowledged Thursday that he discussed counseling with his wife, who was not receptive to the idea because she thought the matter would become public, according to the Post. He further testified that he became “emotionally, physically unavailable” to the first lady, who would frustrate him by asking for help with tasks like editing speeches that were more suited to staffers.
The governor revealed later in his testimony that he actually moved out of his family’s suburban Richmond home about a week before the federal corruption trial began and has been staying with his parish priest.
“The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult,” he said, as quoted by the Post. “The strain of the investigation, indictment has just been a crushing event in our lives.”
This post has been updated.