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First Lady's former Chief of Staff dishes dirt in McDonnell Trial

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Mary Shea Sutherland (Source: NBC12) Mary Shea Sutherland (Source: NBC12)
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Mary Shea Sutherland was Mrs. McDonnell's Chief of Staff at the height of the gift scandal at the executive mansion. 

Her testimony could be a flashpoint in this trial.  Is she a victim- caught up in a difficult job during a corruption scandal or was she a part -maybe even the root- of the problem?

Sutherland had worked for many powerful Republicans  so June 2009 when Gov.- elect Bob McDonnell asked her for help to be his wife's Chief of Staff she was ready for the challenge.

Sutherland said McDonnell had one request:

"That he (Gov. McDonnell) comes home to a happy wife," she said on the witness stand.

Based on Sutherland's testimony she felt far short of that goal

Sutherland has called the former First Lady a quote "A nut bag". She said Mrs. McDonnell often screamed at staff and even raised her voice to the governor himself.

But Sutherland did say that Maureen was happy when she was around Jonnie Williams. Telling the FBI that he was her quote "favorite playmate".

Sutherland also outlined the many ways she saw the McDonnell's go to great lengths to accommodate Williams, even having the governor rush back from Washington DC to attend the luncheon with his company Star Scientific at the mansion.

But defense attorneys tried to show how it was Sutherland who was close to Williams. They tried to prove she was the one orchestrating events through the mansion and later the outlined how she came very close to taking the job with wealthy CEO.

Sutherland could be key according to legal analyst Paul Goldman- because she is one of the few witnesses without a remaining express loyalty to either of the McDonnells.

"She didn't like working for the first lady, she wanted out almost as soon as she got there," said Goldman. "So yes there is no loyalty there."

And in a trial where credibility is vital to the outcome- every aspect of a witness is important.

Sutherland may not necessarily owe the McDonnells anything it is clear the Governor himself remains fond of her.

Before she left her job in the mansion he told her that he didn't think he could manage the rest of his term without her. 

Wednesday in court he even gave her a hug. 

Her testimony could be a major deciding factor for the jury- and she was on the witness stand all day Wednesday in the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. 

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