To refresh your memories, Rachel Maddow said, “So it turns out there is a smoking gun in [Va. Gov. 'Ultrasound' McDonnell] case. Want to see it?” Gov. Ultrasound has been evasive and dishonest about accepting a lot of fancy schmancy gifts and lots of cash from his supporters… one in particular, Jonnie Williams, chief executive of Star Scientific.
And in return, Gov. Ultrasound does them favors. But now he's in a whole lot of hot legal water, so he has apologized but claimed that they weren’t all gifts, no, they were loans, no they were gifts and loans, and he’s returning the gifts and the loans, because, damn you caught me red handed even though I didn't do anything wrong, trust me!
But back to Donor Jonnie. Apparently, the Gov.'s BFF is no longer his BFF, per WaPo:
Jonnie R. Williams Sr., chief executive of Star Scientific, has turned over personal financial records and sat for interviews in which he provided firsthand accounts of luxury gifts and more than $120,000 given to McDonnell (R) and his family members since 2011, the people said. [...]
The cooperation is an ominous sign for McDonnell, suggesting that federal prosecutors are focused on trying to build a potential criminal case against him... [Williams can tell them] whether the governor and first lady agreed to take official actions that could help Williams’s company in exchange for his gifts.
There would have to be proof, or a "direct connection," showing that McDonnell agreed to perform official acts for Williams in exchange for money or other items of value. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, there is indeed a direct connection, and it looks a little something like this:
Follow the link to see her video segment explaining why that email is a "smoking gun." Hint: McDonnell helped arrange for Williams to meet with the state’s secretary of health to pitch his company’s new magic tobacco-based wonder product.
[W]hen trying to prove a crime, prosecutors need only show that McDonnell derived some benefit from the items given. So it would probably not matter whether Williams lent the money or gave it to McDonnell, nor whether Williams gave the gifts and money to McDonnell or to members of his family. [...]
People familiar with the investigation said Williams has sat for interviews in Richmond, Alexandria and Florida, where he maintains a residence. Star Scientific, which has conducted an internal review of its financial and business interactions with the governor, has also turned over several of its findings to the government, two people said.
In addition to providing financial assistance, Williams also gave gifts to McDonnell’s family.