Now that the dust has settled, 10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox sat down with him for an exclusive one-on-one interview.
Over breakfast, Andy and McDonnell discussed what the former governor, now 62-years-old, calls his “road to restoration.”
The journey toward restoration began April 27, 2016 at the Supreme Court of the United States, when arguments were heard to overturn his conviction on public corruption charges. Those arguments would lead to McDonnell’s freedom.
“To have the Supreme Court to vindicate my wife and me, my family, my state — we were all part of that,” McDonnell said.
The restoration continued moving forward on September 23, 2016, when federal prosecutors dropped charges against the former first couple of Virginia, and decided not to re-prosecute the McDonnells.
“God has been in the process of restoring many things to my life,” McDonnell said. “I feel like Job in the Old Testament. The book of Job covers the suffering of innocent people, like Job. My law license has been restored, my right to vote, getting my passport back.”
Restoration includes McDonnell, the former felon, now vindicated and getting back his law license. He is now employed at his former law firm, Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, which is one of four new business cards he handed to Andy.
“I will be doing a little bit in the practice, but bringing in a little bit of new business into the firm is what I’ll be doing the most.”
McDonnell shared four business cards with 10 On Your Side, one of which was from the law firm. Another card says McDonnell is a business consultant with the ESG Companies. There, he’s working on the $350 million Virginia Beach arena, and he boldly predicts guaranteed financing will be secured by March 8. Andy Fox asked him: Are you that confident?
“March 8 is our deadline. We got the financing. We are going to build an arena… and it is going to happen on March 8 — on or before,” McDonnell said with clear confidence.
The third business card is the McDonnell group, working with his sister, Maureen.
“What our company does is business development. That is the chief thing we do. We help new businesses find new customers, new markets, introducing analysis and introducing… People who might be new customers.”
McDonnell’s sister and wife are both named Maureen.
McDonnell preferred not to discuss his marriage, so the conversation continued.
McDonnell has also been named a distinguished professor at Regent University. That is also part of his restoration.
“The course will be about the over criminalization of behavior by the federal government.”
He will also lead Regent’s Governor’s Center for the Restoration of Federalism.
“We have a concern over the balance of power that tips too far towards the federal government,” McDonnell said. “I knew what was in my heart. I governed myself according to state law that I did not violate any of these vague obscure federal statues.”
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with McDonnell in an 8-0 decision. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in McDonnell’s case, “What constitutes official acts were so broad, they could cover almost any action a public official takes.”
McDonnell will only say his legal fees are in excess of $10 million.
“I am going to do the best I can to meet my financial obligations to the lawyers,” he said.
It should be noted the U.S. Department of Justice has ignored 10 On Your Side’s Freedom of Information Act requests for the taxpayer cost to prosecute McDonnell and his wife. It’s safe to say it’s in the tens of millions of dollars.
Bob McDonnell is deeply spiritual. Did he ever wonder where God was during the dark days of trials and tribulation?
“Sure I did, same way his son hanging on the cross said, ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ That’s the way I felt the day of the guilty verdict… I trusted you, Lord, yet I was convicted unfairly, what happened?” McDonnell explained.
Andy Fox posed to McDonnell the thought in order for him to be truly vindicated, the case had to go to U.S. Supreme Court. What happened to McDonnell in the end set a new precedent on what is considered an official act. The McDonnell case is used now for other politicians snared by federal prosecutors. The high court’s decision also put those federal prosecutors on notice, raising the bar on what is corruption and what is not. After contemplating that, McDonnell said, “That is probably right… it was God’s plan for me to win in the end.”
Is it the end for public office on the “road to restoration?” Would McDonnell ever consider running for public office again?
He quickly said, “I doubt it.”
Doesn’t running and winning the public’s trust to hold public office complete his restoration?
“No, because I don’t need a title or an office to feel vindicated.”
Many believe had “the incident” as McDonnell referred to it not have happened, he may very well have been the next U.S. president. Does that gnaw at him as he watches President Donald Trump? Andy pointed out to McDonnell that it could have been him.
“It doesn’t gnaw at me,” he said. “No. I do not think about it. It doesn’t gnaw on me. I am not angry, nor bitter. God has something in store for me.”
McDonnell says he voted for Trump and supports most of his new policies, but he is concerned about the new president.
“I wish he would check in his cell phone and not tweet. I wish he would tone down his tone a little bit and bring people together.”
As the interview finished, Andy Fox asked McDonnell what is the one thing he wants the public to know about our community.
“I am so blessed,” McDonnell replied. “This is a community that is very encouraging and loving and I just want the people to know how much I appreciate the personal love and encouragement I have gotten through the last four years.”