TIME politics

Former Virginia Governor: My Dysfunctional Marriage Proves I’m Innocent

Bob McDonnell, Maureen McDonnell
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, accompanied by his wife, Maureen, speaks during a news conference in Richmond, Va., Jan. 21, 2014. Steve Helber—AP

Defense lawyers say the gov's wife accepted gifts because she had a crush on a political donor. Will the jury buy it? We asked the experts.

Lawyers for former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, argued Tuesday that the couple didn’t conspire to take over $165,000 in cash, shopping trips, and vacations from a wealthy donor, but instead only accepted the gifts because Mrs. McDonnell had a “crush” on the donor.

McDonnell, who left office in January, is accused of taking cash and gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in return for help promoting his dietary supplement company. But the couple’s lawyers are arguing that the Maureen McDonnell let Williams pay for expensive shopping trips and vacations because she had a “crush” on the charismatic businessman, and was unhappy in her marriage to the Governor. “Unlike the other man in her life, Jonnie Williams paid attention to Maureen McDonnell,” her defense attorney William Burck said. The couple face over 20 years in prison if convicted on federal corruption charges.

But will a jury believe the “crush” defense? Some lawyers think they just might.

“I think it’s ingenious, and I think it may work,” says Solomon L. Wisenberg, a D.C. based white collar defense lawyer who served as deputy independent counsel to Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater-Lewinsky investigations. “It certainly doesn’t make either one of them look good, but that’s not the same thing as committing a crime.”

Wisenberg notes that the McDonnells had filed a motion to sever, which would have allowed the co-defendants to face separate charges, but that this motion was denied, which means they had to coordinate their defense arguments. “This allows them to have kind of a complementary defense without pointing fingers at each other, yet it helps him because she’s obviously the principle player, and she’s the first one who roped this guy in,” he says.

“This strikes me as a more atypical defense, but that doesn’t mean it’s a Hail Mary pass,” says Josh Bowers, a professor at University of Virginia Law School who specializes in criminal procedure. “It could very well be the truth, and sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.”

But is Maureen McDonnell falling on her sword to protect her husband? “She’s got a lot less room to maneuver than he does,” Wisenberg explains. Mrs. McDonnell would have frequent private meetings with Williams, one former staff member called him her “favorite playmate,” and the two allegedly exchanged over 1,200 texts and phone calls over two years. “What’s she gonna do, say ‘It’s all my husband?’ The facts don’t seem to support that. What are her options other than what she’s doing?” he adds. The defense team also argued that Mrs. McDonnell was never a public official, and so shouldn’t be held to the same standards as her husband.

Wisenberg also notes that it might have been a misstep for the prosecution to start off with testimony from the McDonnell’s daughter Cailin, whose wedding was partially funded through gifts from Williams. Cailin McDonnell Young cried on the stand when she testified Tuesday that Williams had footed the bill for the catering at her 2011 nupitals. Wisenberg says Cailin’s tears on the witness stand could bode well for the defense, since a crying young woman makes the prosecution look like bullies, especially since juries are more likely to remember what happens at the beginning and end of the trial. “She’s an attractive young female testifying about the wedding, asking for Kleenex,” he says. “If I’m on the defense, I’m doing high-fives under the table.”

MONEY Shopping

WATCH: Shop This Weekend and Escape the Sales Tax

Several states are suspending sales taxes to encourage shoppers to hit the stores.

TIME Virginia

US Court: Va. Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

(RICHMOND, Va.) — A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, the latest in a string of decisions overturning bans across the country.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled that state constitutional and statutory provisions barring gay marriage and denying recognition of such unions performed in other states violate the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia gay marriage case is one of several that could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was not immediately clear if or when the state would need to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Virginia’s same-sex marriage bans “impermissibly infringe on its citizens’ fundamental right to marry,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote in the court’s opinion.

In February, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process guarantees. Lawyers for two circuit court clerks whose duties include issuing marriage licenses appealed. Attorney General Mark Herring, representing a state official also named as a defendant, sided with the plaintiffs.

“Marriage is one of the most fundamental rights — if not the most fundamental right — of all Americans,” David Boies, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “This court has affirmed that our plaintiffs — and all gay and lesbian Virginians — no longer have to live as second-class citizens who are harmed and demeaned every day.”

Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Those rulings remain in various stages of appeal.

More than 70 cases have been filed in all 31 states that prohibit same-sex marriage. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow such marriages.

The Virginia lawsuit was filed by Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk, who were denied a marriage license, and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County. The women were married in California and wanted their marriage recognized in Virginia, where they are raising a 16-year-old daughter.

Two other same-sex couples, Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester, filed a similar lawsuit in Harrisonburg and were allowed to intervene in the case before the appeals court.

In 2006, Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent to approve the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Virginia laws also prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

TIME weather

Suspected Tornado Kills at Least 2 at Virginia Campground

Virginia Storm Tornado
A tractor trailer truck lies on its side in the median of U.S. Route 13 while a fire engine responds to a nearby campground after a severe storm passed through the area, Cheriton, Va, July 24, 2014. Jay Diem—Eastern Shore News/AP

Campers at Cape Charles, Va. have been tweeting photos from the scene

Update 12:11pm

At least two people were killed and 20 injured when a suspected tornado touched down at a Virginia campground Thursday morning, leaving overturned campers and injuries in its wake.

Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for the Virginia Police Department, confirmed that the weather event had left two dead. Earlier reports from a local fire department had said there were three fatalities.

“It came in real quick,” Easterville volunteer firefighter Brittney Eder told the AP. “The sky turned jet black.”

At 8:38 am, the National Weather Service tweeted out a tornado warning for the area. The twister hit the Cherrystone Campground, near Cape Charles, shortly before 9 am.

While the weather incident can’t be confirmed as a tornado until a storm survey team has assessed the campgrounds, NWS meteorologist Mike Rusnak says that based on the type of thunderstorm in the area and “from the pictures we’ve seen, we do think it was a tornado.”

Jordan Bertok was on the campgrounds with her family at the time of the storm and has been tweeting pictures of the devastation. “Just lived through a tornado,” she wrote. “Children are missing. People are dead. Trees are down.” Continuing with the message: “This is hell. I’m in hell.”

Betrok’s grandparents went in their car to take cover. They were hospitalized for injuries, although Betrok said that they are “doing well.”

Local media outlet WAVY-TV reported that six ambulances and a mass casualty truck arrived on the scene to assist the injured and help transport them to the hospital. The news source also reports that some boats were flipped in Oyster Bay, although it’s unknown whether they were occupied.

TIME justice

Police Say They Won’t Take Explicit Photos of Teen in Sexting Case

Following a wave of backlash.

Police in Virginia have backed away from a controversial plan to take sexually explicit photos of a 17-year-old to corroborate the images with evidence in a sexting case, the Associated Press reports.

The teen in question faces two felony charges in juvenile court for manufacturing and distributing child pornography after exchanging sexts with his then-15-year-old girlfriend. Police and prosecutors received a warrant to take the sexually explicit photos to compare against photos he allegedly sent.

But amid a wave of backlash, Manassas Police Lt. Brian Larkin told the AP Thursday that his department would not move forward with the plan and will let the search warrant expire. He did not give a specific reason.

A day earlier, the Manassas Police Department issued a statement saying it was not their policy to “authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature.” That statement did not elaborate on whether the images would be taken.

[AP]

TIME justice

Virginia Police Issued Search Warrant For Photos of Sexting Teen’s Genitals, Lawyer Says

For evidence in a sexting investigation

Local police have issued a search warrant for explicit photos of a Virginia teenager accused of sexting his former girlfriend, lawyers for the teen said.

The Manassas City Police and Prince William County prosecutor are seeking pictures of the teen’s genitals, lawyer Jessica H. Foster told the Washington Post.

The teen faces two felony charges for manufacturing and distributing child pornography after exchanging sexts with his then-15-year-old girlfriend, whose mother filed the initial complaint with authorities. The case was dismissed in juvenile court in June, because prosecutors neglected to certify the teen’s juvenile status, the Post reports, but new charges were filed by the police.

The teen’s aunt told NBC Washington last week that local officers have already taken photos of her nephew’s genitals, but now want photos of an erection, too, to compare with evidence. The police reportedly told the teen that, if necessary, they would take him to a hospital for an injection that induces an erection.

“The prosecutor’s job is to seek justice,” Foster told the Post. “What is just about this? How does this advance the interest of the Commonwealth?”

If charged, the teen could face incarceration and would be forced to register as a sex offender.

Foster added, “I don’t mind trying the case. My goal is to stop the search warrant. I don’t want him to go through that. Taking him down to the hospital so he can get an erection in front of all those cops, that’s traumatizing.”

Carlos Flores Laboy, the teen’s appointed guardian ad litem told the Post that he found authorities’ desire to create more sexually explicit photos of a teenager, in the name of an investigation into child pornography allegations, both ironic and troubling.

“They’re using a statute that was designed to protect children from being exploited in a sexual manner to take a picture of this young man in a sexually explicit manner, said Flores Laboy. “The irony is incredible.”

He added, “As a parent myself, I was floored. It’s child abuse. We’re wasting thousands of dollars and resources and man hours on a sexting case. That’s what we’re doing.”

Calls to the Manassas City Police Department and the Prince William County prosecutor’s office were not immediately returned to TIME.

[Washington Post]

TIME Washington

The Garage Where ‘Deep Throat’ Spilled Watergate Secrets Will Be Demolished

Apartments and a mall will take its place, leaving only a historical plaque to commemorate the location where Mark Felt, a top FBI agent known as "Deep Throat," would share Watergate secrets with journalist Bob Woodward

+ READ ARTICLE

It very well may be the most important parking garage in America, or at least the only one instrumental in the end of a presidency. But by 2017, the Rosslyn, Va., facility where Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward received covert tips on the Watergate scandal — informing the news stories that played a large role in prompting President Richard Nixon’s resignation — will be gone.

On Saturday, the five members of the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to allow Monday Properties, a major real-estate-development firm, to demolish the parking garage and its adjoining office building and construct both a shopping center and a high-density apartment building in its place, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The pre-existing structure, the demolition of which was announced by Monday Properties in August, was built in the 1960s — a time, according to Arlington County Board vice chairwoman Mary Hynes, when Rosslyn was “not a very nice place for people.”

But it was in this “not very nice place” that Mark Felt, a top FBI agent better known by the moniker Deep Throat, would meet Woodward, providing him with classified information surrounding a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington’s Watergate office complex in June 1972. Over the course of two years, Woodward and his partner Carl Bernstein were able to trace the burglary to a complex web of corruption that ultimately led to the White House.

Nixon resigned in August 1974 after a prolonged scandal; dozens of other federal officials were implicated in the process.

For its operative role in uncovering the Watergate controversy, the garage earned a historical marker from Arlington County in 2011, which will stay intact even after the structure has been razed.

“We obviously view the whole Watergate situation as a significant event in the history of our country,” Tim Helmig, chief development officer of Monday Properties, said last year. “It would be our hope that we preserve that plaque and incorporate it in our redevelopment.”

TIME Military

The Men Who Toiled Behind the Scenes at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery Grave Diggers
Long-time Arlington gravediggers Clifton L. Pollard (left) and Sylvester Smith (right) alongside the backhoe used for digging grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. on July 30, 1980. Gary A. Cameron—The Washington Post/Getty Images

The gravediggers who worked at Arlington National Cemetery lived the history of the celebrated place of rest

Arlington National Cemetery is turning 150 this year, and the iconic site has been commemorating its history with a series of ceremonies and special tours over the past two months.

While visitors to the cemetery typically come to see the famous sites such as the Battle of the Bulge Memorial and the grave of former President John F. Kennedy, Arlington holds a special history behind the scenes as well.

Gravediggers like the ones pictured in this photo have often experienced iconic moments in American history. Clifton L. Pollard and Sylvester Smith were two of the gravediggers who prepared Kennedy’s grave in 1963. Pollard in particular rose to prominence after journalist Jimmy Breslin featured him in a column in the New York Herald Tribune in November 1963.

Breslin’s column described Pollard waking up early on a Sunday morning to dig the grave for the 35th president. The longtime gravedigger earned $3.01 an hour at the time, and told Breslin, “Why, it’s an honor for me to be here.”

TIME Military

Honoring the Old Guard As Arlington National Cemetery Turns 150

The Old Guard, or the 3rd U.S. infantry regiment, is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army and conducts ceremonies and memorial affairs to honor fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery

TIME elections

Before Cantor: Seven Other Tea Party Upsets

The defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a little-known Tea Partier isn't the first upset in recent election cycles

It all started four years B.C. Four years before Cantor that is.

Since the Tea Party had its first member elected to public office in 2010 (Dean Murray to the New York State Assembly), the feisty political movement has rocked the GOP with challengers to elected positions long-held by establishment Republicans.

In the latest upset, House Majority Leader and No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor, lost to the Tea Party-backed economics professor, Dave Brat in the Virginia Republican primary on Tuesday.

It’s a result which many are calling one of the most stunning primary election results in congressional history. Cantor was considered a top contender to replace John Boehner as the next House Speaker. What’s more, Cantor was a vocal supporter of child immigration rights, which many thought might help change the debate on immigration.

But Cantor isn’t the only establishment Republican to face a surprising defeat to a Tea Party challenger. See seven of the biggest Tea Party election upsets (in four years of history) below.

1. Ted Yoho

Yoho—whom the Tampa Bay Times retroactively dubbed “The Eric Cantor of Florida”—caused a major upset in 2012, defeating longtime incumbent Congressman Cliff Stearns, who served 12 terms in the house beginning in 1988, in the Republican primary.

Yoho then easily defeated Democrat candidate J.R. Gaillot in the general election, walking away with 64.8 % of the votes.

2. Ted Cruz

In the 2012 Republican primary runoff for senate, Ted Cruz faced off against the establishment GOP candidate and Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst. Dewhurst had the backing of Governor Rick Perry and many other members of the state’s Republican leadership, but in the end this support meant little—Cruz defeated Dewhurst by more than 150,000 votes out of the 1.1 million cast.

Cruz then defeated Democratic challenger Paul Sadler in the general election, becoming the first Hispanic to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.

3. Mike Lee

Senator Robert F. Bennett lost his bid for a fourth term during the 2010 primaries when he received only 27% of the vote by Utah’s delegates and missed a runoff. During the critical Utah GOP convention, Bennett told delegates in a speech, “Don’t take a chance on a newcomer,” but that’s exactly what they did. Taking his place was Mike Lee, an attorney with no prior political experience.

Lee also beat Democratic challenger Sam Granato in the general election, with 62%t of the votes compared to Granato’s 33%.

4. Marco Rubio

The race for the open seat on Florida’s Senate in 2010 was a three-way battle. With the sitting Governor Charlie Crist running as an Independent, facing off against Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio.

Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, won the race with 49% of the vote. Talk of him running for president in 2012 began immediately, and although he expressed no intention to run back then, he’s said it’s something he’ll consider in 2016.

5. Brad Wenstrup

Like Mike Lee, Brad Wenstrup was a political newbie when he won Ohio’s 2nd congressional district in 2012, first defeating Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt in the primaries, and then Democratic challenger William R. Smith in the November general election.

6. Rand Paul

Rand Paul, with his unconventional views on foreign policy and social issues, is a hard pill for the GOP to swallow. But the pill become a lot more cumbersome in 2010, when he beat out establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the Republican primary.

He faced off against Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (a Democrat) in the general election, walking away victorious with 56% of the vote.

7. Tim Scott

In 2010, South Carolina held a 9-candidate Republican primary, including two candidates with fathers who were also involved in Republican politics—Paul Thurmond, son of former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, and Carroll Campbell, son of former South Carolina Governor Carroll A. Campbell. Scott came in first, with 32% of the vote.

After a second vote to secure more than 50% of the vote, Scott went on to defeat Democrat Ben Frasier in the general election, becoming the first African American to be elected to congress from South Carolina in more than 100 years. He was later appointed to the U.S. Senate seat from South Carolina, replacing Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who retired.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser