RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Gov. Bob McDonnell wrote a long, forlorn email to his wife three years ago trying to save his marriage, calling her his "soulmate," yet he also said he grew so weary of her yelling that he began taking refuge in his office late at night rather than go home.
McDonnell testified extensively about his troubled marriage Thursday at his public corruption trial. He and his wife, Maureen, are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements.
The McDonnells say their marriage was broken and that they were barely speaking, let alone engaged in a criminal conspiracy.
McDonnell choked up at various times, speaking in a melancholy tone and taking long pauses before answering questions from his lawyer. He became particularly emotional as he described what led him to write his wife on Labor Day 2011, after she had rejected his efforts to spend the weekend with her.
"I was heartbroken," he said, and worried "that this was maybe the end of my marriage."
He began the email "I love you" but said the weekend "was one of the lowest points of my life."
He apologized for being absent, but said "I am completely at a loss as to how to handle the fiery anger and hate from you that has become more and more frequent," he wrote.
Maureen McDonnell never responded, he testified. Meanwhile, he said he learned while preparing for the trial that she had been in contact with Williams four different times that day.
At first, he thought they shared a natural bond over dietary supplements — Maureen McDonnell had sold nutritional supplement for decades as a part-time business. She was crushed when he told her it would be inappropriate to continue selling vitamins as first lady, he said.
McDonnell testified that he doesn't believe his wife had an affair with Williams, but that they had developed an intense, emotional connection to which he had been oblivious.
The former governor's lawyers have argued McDonnell did nothing more for Williams than he would for any other Virginia businessman.
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