McDonnell's former cabinet member undercuts defense narrative - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

McDonnell's former cabinet secretary undercuts defense narrative

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Thursday could be the toughest day yet, for the McDonnell defense after potentially damning testimony from an important member of the former governor's administration dominates the day in court.

The jury heard from a number of members of the McDonnell staff during the former governor's time in office, but it is his former Secretary of Health and Human Resources' testimony that may resonate the most.

Dr. Bill Hazel is actually still in that same position with the current administration and today he testified that he did not buy Jonnie William's or his product for one second.

His testimony could mark a turning point in the trial, Hazel spent Thursday trashing Williams-- the CEO at the center of gifts scandal. Hazel was the first to describe Williams as the "tic-tac man" and said he never had any faith in the millionaire's company or his product.

"To say I was skeptical would be an understatement," Hazel testified.

His view of the CEO undercuts part of the defense theory that Williams was so impressive that most were swayed by his pitch. Hazel was so unimpressed he begged off sitting next to him at political event because quote: "I frankly thought it would be a long evening."

But his personal view aside, perhaps the most damning part of his testimony was his perception of the treatment Williams was given by the administration.

"I can't recall that there was ever a situation quite like this one," he said.

Afterward- Hazel told reporters his testimony stands for itself.

"I think I made it pretty clear in there don't you think?" Hazel said. 

It stands alone in particular because the McDonnell defense team asked Hazel only one question, leaving the prosecution's version of events for the jury to rely on.

Hazel was not the only member of the McDonnell administration on the stand Thursday. Former mansion director Sarah Scarborough testified about her role in setting up events for Williams, and longtime McDonnell press aide Tucker Martin testified that he had no idea about the gifts Williams was giving his boss, until members of the press started calling him. 

The second week of this marathon trial concludes tomorrow at the Federal Courthouse.  

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