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Prosecutor: McDonnells had 'corrupt understanding'

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives at federal court in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. The prosecution in the McDonnell corruption case begins its rebuttal Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives at federal court in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. The prosecution in the McDonnell corruption case begins its rebuttal Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell holds hands with her son Bobby as they arrive at federal court in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. The prosecution in the McDonnell corruption case begins its rebuttal today. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell, second from right, holds hands with her son Bobby McDonnell, right, as they arrive at federal court followed by daughter Cailin Young, left, Rachel McDonnell, second form right, and attorney Heather Martin, center, in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. The prosecution in the McDonnell corruption case begins its rebuttal today. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Prosecutors urged jurors on Friday to focus on two questions at the corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen: Why did a businessman give the couple more than $165,000 in gifts and loans, and why did the McDonnells accept?

The answer, prosecutor David Harbach said in his closing argument, was a “corrupt understanding.” The McDonnells needed money because they were badly in debt, and they were willing to undertake official acts to help former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams promote his tobacco-based supplement, Anatabloc.

“That is bribery. That is corruption … the real thing,” Harbach said.

The McDonnells are charged in federal court in a 14-count indictment and could face decades in prison if convicted. They are being tried together, but have their own attorneys, who will give their closing arguments later Friday.

McDonnell testified in his own defense and said the couple extended courtesies to Williams like any other elected official would.

Harbach challenged the former governor’s credibility, questioning McDonnell’s assertion that he knew nothing about the first bit of gifts Williams showered on the couple: an April 2011 shopping spree in New York City in which he spent nearly $20,000 on designer dresses and accessories for Maureen McDonnell to wear at her daughter’s wedding.

McDonnell denied knowing Williams had paid for such expensive dresses, even though he knew his wife had a habit of asking for expensive gifts.

“Folks, how do you miss that?” Harbach said to the jury. “Despite all of that, Mr. McDonnell said he had no idea” that Jonnie Williams had purchased such expensive gifts for his wife. “You decide who to believe.”

Associated Press


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