Now that he's on the trial, Bob McDonnell's job is to make his marriage sound as pathetic as possible. To that end, the former Virginia governor read excerpts from a sad letter to his wife, written when things were at their worst. “I know I am a sinner and keep trying to do better," he wrote. "But 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." McDonnell also testified that he and his wife are no longer living together — he's staying with his pastor.
McDonnell and his wife Maureen are facing corruption charges for allegedly accepting gifts to promote a businessman's dietary supplements. The couple's bizarre strategy has been to argue that there's no way they could have conspired to commit the crime they're accused of, because they were hardly even talking.
Thursday was about proving that. At one point, McDonnell's defense lawyer asked the former governor if he thought his wife was having a physical affair with businessman Jonnie Williams. When McDonnell said "I don't believe so," his lawyer asked the equally awkward question of whether Maureen McDonnell was getting the same emotional support from him that she received from Williams. "No," he replied.
Earlier in the afternoon the judge allowed McDonnell to read excerpts from a letter he wrote to his wife in 2011, when their marriage was at a low point. The letter, according to The Washington Post, read:
I love you. Yesterday was one on (sic) the lowest points in my life. We have had a very hard year emotionally, despite a wonderful anniversary celebration. You are my soulmate. ... I am sorry for all the times I have not been there for you and have done things to hurt you. ... You told me again yesterday that you would wreck my things and how bad I am. It hurt me to my core. I have asked and prayed to God so many times to take this anger away and heal whatever is causing it … some going back years and years. He has not yet answered those prayers. ... I want to be in love, not just watch movies about it.
McDonnell admitted to keeping his wife away at times, but was "spiritually and mentally exhausted from being yelled at."
This is just the latest in a string of unflattering revelations about Maureen McDonnell. Bob McDonnell and others have testified that she struggled under the "public glare," was "diva-ish" and possibly mentally ill, "deceptive," "flirty" and a nightmare to work with. Now we can add her "fiery anger and hate" to the list. Of course, this character assassination strategy is all the more interesting considering McDonnell used to campaigned on strengthening the family:
McDonnell’s ’89 thesis was about how the GOP must “take bold action to restore the family to a position of strength in modern society"— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) August 21, 2014
It's hard to see how telling the world your wife is a lovesick diva to stay out of jail will help "restore the family," especially his own.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.