(AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has no legal right to see the instructions that were given to a grand jury that indicted him on corruption charges, federal prosecutors say in court papers.
The filing in U.S. District Court came in response to an unusually strident motion by McDonnell seeking the instructions. McDonnell also asked for recordings of prosecutors’ statements to the grand jury about the legal validity of the 14-count indictment against the former governor and his wife, Maureen.
“This court will have ample opportunity to opine on the defendants’ challenges to the legal sufficiency of the indictment, should the defendants file a motion to dismiss,” prosecutors said in the response filed Monday.
Instead, they said, the McDonnells are using the motion for disclosure “as a public forum to castigate the government” without stating why they are legally entitled to the instructions.
Prosecutors said anyone seeking information from secret grand jury proceedings must make a strong showing of a specific need, but the McDonnells “appear content to offer conclusory protestations of innocence” and “hurl invective at the government.”
McDonnell, once a rising star in the Republican Party, and his wife have pleaded not guilty to charges they illegally accepted more than $165,000 in loans and gifts from a former CEO of a dietary supplement-maker in return for promoting his products. Their trial is set to begin in July.
McDonnell repaid former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams for most of the loans and gifts.
Hours after being charged on Jan. 21, the former governor’s lawyers said in their motion seeking the grand jury instructions that the decision to prosecute McDonnell days after his term ended “is disgraceful, violates basic principles of justice, and is contemptuous of the citizens of Virginia who elected him.”
In another filing Monday, prosecutors opposed the McDonnells’ motion seeking immediate disclosure of all evidence potentially beneficial to the defense. They said the request was too broad and that legal precedent only requires disclosure of the evidence in time for effective use at the trial. Evidence will be turned over to the defense “on a reasonable schedule,” the government attorneys said.
-LARRY O’DELL, Associated Press