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Live updates: Former Va. Gov. McDonnell and wife charged

(Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post)

(Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post)

Former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife Maureen were charged in federal court Tuesday with illegally accepting gifts, luxury vacations and large loans from a wealthy Richmond-area businessman who sought special treatment from state government. We’re bringing you the latest updates here.

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Winding down our live coverage

We’re wrapping up our live coverage of the indictments for the night. Here are some key links going forward:

Mark Berman
January 21, 7:57 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 7:57 pm

Waiting until all the facts are known

Laura Vozzella reports from Richmond:

“As with any criminal accusation, judgment should be reserved until the facts are fully known,” said Steve Benjamin, a Richmond attorney for former governor’s mansion chef Todd Schneider.

Schneider, after being accused of pilfering food from the mansion kitchen, tipped off investigators to the McDonnell’s relationship with Williams. The chef eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges.

Mark Berman
January 21, 7:51 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 7:51 pm

A skeptical view

Rachel Weiner reports from Richmond:

Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) said that while he hasn’t read the indictment yet, he worries about the “political aspect” of the charges. 

“I am surprised because from what I can tell, Gov. McDonnell never took any action on behalf of Star Scientific,” he said. “I always view these political trials with a degree of skepticism, whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican.”

Mark Berman
January 21, 7:50 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 7:50 pm

"Not a dishonest bone in his body"

Rachel Weiner reports from Richmond:

Despite the indictment, Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) said he stands by McDonnell.

“As far as I know Bob McDonnell, there is not a dishonest bone in his body,” he said. “If Rita and I died, I’d like Bob McDonnell to raise my kids. That’s how highly I think of him. … I can’t imagine that he would ever intend on breaking the law. But it’s up to the people of Virginia now.”


Mark Berman
January 21, 7:33 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 7:33 pm

McDonnell calls charges 'false allegations'

In his first public comment since the indictment, McDonnell stressed his innocence and called the charges against him “false allegations.”

“I repeat again, emphatically, that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams,” said McDonnell, who spoke for several minutes.

McDonnell, outlining his personal history and citing several achievements from his gubernatorial tenure, said he has given his “heart and soul” to the people of Virginia.

The investigation “has been incredibly agonizing,” he said, but he promised to fight against the charges.

Mark Berman
January 21, 7:14 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 7:14 pm

WATCH: McDonnell speaks

Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell plans to issue his first live comment on the indictments at 7 p.m. You can watch a stream of the comments here:

Mark Berman
January 21, 6:49 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 6:49 pm

Republican Party chair hopes for ethics reforms

Pat Mullins, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said in a statement that the indictments should be a reminder that ethics reforms are needed.

“It is my fervent hope that the justice system will be allowed to take its course without sensationalism or partisanship,” he said. “But these indictments are a reminder that our Commonwealth needs to enact ethics reform that promotes open and transparent government.”

Calling the news “extremely disappointing,” Mullins said he spoke with McDonnell earlier Tuesday and said the former governor and his wife remain in Mullins’s prayers.


Mark Berman
January 21, 6:42 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 6:42 pm

What McDonnell can teach other politicians

Chris Cillizza explains what other politicians can learn from McDonnell’s transition from party superstar (and potential vice-presidential pick) to political pariah:

The “new” part of this story is the rapidness with which McDonnell went from superstar to pariah…. What’s old in the McDonnell story is the semi-permeable line between wealthy donors who help politicians get elected and the politicians themselves. That is a story as old as time….

As we wrote in a post last summer, it is remarkable to consider that McDonnell, a politician whose cautious reputation proceeded him, put himself in a relationship with a donor that was quite clearly inappropriate, at best. He never realized he had crossed the line until he was so far on the wrong side of it there was no hope to make it back. The political life of Bob McDonnell then amounts to a sort of public service announcement for politicians everywhere.

Head to The Fix for more.

Mark Berman
January 21, 6:31 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 6:31 pm

McDonnells ordered to appear in court on Friday

The McDonnells have been summoned to appear in a federal courtroom in Richmond at 11 a.m. Friday, reports Matt Zapotosky.

In addition, their attorneys have already launched into action, filing a motion for “discovery of the instructions provided to the grand jury when securing today’s indictment, as well as all other recordings of the prosecutors’ statements to the grand jury about the legal validity of the charge.”

Mark Berman
January 21, 6:12 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 6:12 pm

Va. lawmakers call for ethics reforms

Rachel Weiner reports from Richmond:

The indictments highlight the need for a better system to deal with ethics charges, said Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax).

“I am disappointed that the only way the governor has faced accountability for his conduct is through the federal criminal justice system. … It highlights the need for an ethics commission,” he said. “It shouldn’t take a grand jury to investigate these matters.”

Calling the enforcement of ethics in Virginia “a joke,” Suvorell said this indictment will “be a real mark” on Virginia history.

“We let the governor’s chef be our one man ethics department,” said Sen. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax).

Peterson called the indictment “unprecedented” on Tuesday.

“We’ve never had a governor indicted for corruption,” he said.


Mark Berman
January 21, 5:51 pm
  • Mark Berman January 21, 5:51 pm
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