McDonnell trial to proceed as judge rejects defense dismissal request
- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, left, and his wife Maureen, arrive at Federal court. (AP file photo)
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A judge rejected a request Friday to dismiss charges against former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife in their corruption trial.
The couple's attorneys argued in court that the prosecution had failed to prove the McDonnells had violated any laws. Prosecutors argued that they'd provided more than enough evidence during the first three weeks of trial to back up the charges.
Judge James R. Spencer denied the motions after more than an hour of debate.
The McDonnells are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of a dietary supplements maker, in exchange for promoting his company's products. They could face decades in prison if convicted.
The defense's arguments Friday were similar to those of its past unsuccessful court motions. Specifically, lawyers argued that McDonnell had done nothing to provide Williams with anything of real value other than set up meetings and attend events. Defense attorney Ryan Newman said prosecutors are interpreting the law too broadly, in a way that could criminalize routine political courtesies and put other politicians at risk for prosecution.
"The line must be clearer than that," Newman said.
Spencer rejected that argument and said he would provide a written explanation at a later time.
The defense is set to begin presenting its case Monday.
Spencer also said he would rule later on whether questionnaires filled out by the jury prior to being seated for the trial should be made public. The request, made by media organizations, was opposed by both prosecutors and the defense.