'I don't recall that'
Jonnie R. Williams Sr.’s favorite line on the witness stand so far Friday morning? “I don’t recall that.”
After a relatively soft initial cross-examination of Williams Thursday, William Burck, Maureen McDonnell’s lawyer, began to grill prosecutors’ star witness early Friday — probing intensely about an interview the businessman had with FBI agents and Virginia State Police in January 2013. Williams has acknowledged he lied in that interview. On Friday, though, he seemed to be able to remember little of what he actually said.
Burck asked Williams if he remembered telling investigators that two days after he gave Maureen McDonnell a $50,000 loan, the governor called him personally? Williams said that was “not my recollection.” Burck asked Williams if he had told investigators that he did not “ask for” or “want anything” from the governor. Williams said he could not recall.
Asked if he had told investigators about various appearances Maureen McDonnell had made to promote his company’s product, Williams said at least four times, “I may have.” Asked if he compared her support to similar actions she took for Virginia wine companies, he returned to his oft-repeated refrain: “I don’t know if I did or not.”
Burck asked Williams if he recalled telling prosecutors in an interview two months ago that he gifted Star Scientific stock to his children so it could be sold because it would look bad to investors for the chief executive of the company to be selling shares, to avoid disclosure laws and to avoid insider trading laws. “I don’t recall,” he said.
Burck told Williams to refer to a document he has been provided, an FBI report from the interview in question. After reading the document, he asked again: Did Williams recall saying those things?
“I don’t recall,” he said.
So, Burck said, that document is not accurate? “I’m not saying that,” Williams said. “I’m saying that as I sit here today, I don’t recall saying that.”
“And this interview happened two months ago?” Burck asked.