Citing people it identified only as "familiar with the case," the Post said Wednesday federal prosecutors told McDonnell last week he and his wife, Maureen, will be charged under a federal law prohibiting public officials from accepting financial gifts in exchange for a promise to use their offices on behalf of the givers.
The report said U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana J. Boente, had notified the couple's lawyers he intended to ask a grand jury to hand up an indictment by Dec. 16, but Justice Department officials put off a decision on whether to charge them after an attorney for the McDonnells appealed for a delay during a Dec. 12 meeting in Washington with Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole.
McDonnell -- a Republican, who is leaving office after one term due to the state's term limits -- has apologized publicly for his family having received gifts from Johnnie R. Williams Sr. and Williams' company, Star Scientific Inc. The Post said Boente intended to charge the couple with illegally promoting Star Scientific in exchange for gifts and loans.
Attorneys for the McDonnells said in arguing for a delay in the indictments McDonnell did nothing improper and a key prosecution witness has credibility problems, sources told the Post. They suggested indictments now would disrupt the transition of power from McDonnell Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, who was elected in November and is scheduled to take office Jan. 11.
The newspaper's unidentified sources said a final decision on charging the McDonnells could come as soon as Jan. 2 or as late as February.