Now on the stand is Virginia State Police Special Agent Charles Hagan, testifying about how the investigation into Bob and Maureen McDonnell began and about a key interview he conducted with the then-first lady in February 2013. That interview is key to the prosecution’s allegation that Maureen McDonnell obstructed justice upon learning of the probe.
Hagan testified that the investigation began on a different matter: Allegations that Todd Schneider, the executive chef of the governor’s mansion, was stealing food. As part of that investigation, he said investigators learned that Williams had paid $15,000 for the catering at the wedding of the governor’s daughter and $50,000 to Maureen McDonnell.
Hagan said a parallel investigation was opened into whether Jonnie R. Williams Sr. had committed securities fraud. There were at various times, he said, a state grand jury investigating the chef case, a federal grand jury investigating Williams and then a federal grand jury investigating the McDonnells.
In February 2013, he said he asked to interview the first lady. He said he wanted to speak with her about claims made by Schneider that she had authorized the chef to engage in a bartering system, in which he could take food from the mansion for use in his private catering business with her approval. Hagan said he also wanted to hear from her about the Williams’s checks.
He said he took another agent with him to the meeting, a veteran state police officer who was present merely to observe. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber asked Hagan, do you customarily tell people you are preparing to interview all of the topics of the interview?
“No, we do not,” he said, describing how police officers normally just knock on a person’s door and tell them they have a few questions. “We do that so we don’t give someone the chance to think about what they’re going to say?” Hagan said.
Other than a lawyer, Aber asked if police generally allow people to “take along other folk” who want to attend? This was a reference to chief of staff Martin Kent’s testimony that he was told by a state police officer that he was not allowed to sit in on the session. Hagan agreed that police generally do not allow other people to sit in on interviews, fearing their presence could affect the answers of witnesses.
Later, Hagan testified that at no time during the interview did Maureen McDonnell request a lawyer.