Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell took the witness stand himself yesterday to begin testimony that will likely be the biggest factor in determining whether he and his wife end up in federal prison on corruption charges, reports the Washington Post. On day one, McDonnell began making two key points: that he gave no special favors to businessman Jonnie R. Williams despite an estimated $170,000 in gifts and loans bestowed upon McDonnell's family, and that his relationship with wife Maureen wasn't so great, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The last point isn't as trivial as it sounds; part of the couple's defense is that they were so estranged they couldn't possibly have colluded with one another.
McDonnell touched only briefly on his marriage yesterday, but it's expected to be the focus of his testimony today. Still, as the New York Times points out, he "turned the spotlight on his embattled wife" almost immediately, saying that she seemed stressed about becoming first lady. He relayed one anecdote in particular that's getting attention, from the day after his 2009 inauguration: "She was yelling at me about something," he said. "She clearly exhibited stress about her pending role as first lady" and "was not as happy as I was." McDonnell said he was still trying to calm her down when President Obama called with congratulations. "Hello, Bob, this is Barack," said the president. “It was now dawning on me I was in a new phase in my life,” McDonnell said.