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Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell weighs in on Northam controversy

RICHMOND, Va. - As the current political turmoil in Richmond continues to unfold, News 3 sat down with a former governor who's been under the glare of the media spotlight.

Bob McDonnell was convicted of corruption in 2014, only to have the Supreme Court later unanimously overturn that conviction.

Click here to see our full coverage of the McDonnell trial.

He sat down with News 3 anchor Kurt Williams for an exclusive interview on the crisis in Richmond. McDonnell tells me he reached out to Governor Ralph Northam on the very evening the controversy of racist photos unfolded.

"Even though I publicly condemn the pictures in the strongest possible terms, I felt at that point my job was just to tell l him that I was praying for him," McDonnell said. "I just let him know that another governor was concerned about how he and his family were doing. I know what it's like to be under the gun in that Governor's Mansion."

With it being a week since the controversy first blew up, Kurt asked McDonnell whether he thinks Northam is likely to ride it out.

"I don't really know what is going through his thought process," McDonnell responded. "The test is can you govern? Can you lead? Can you restore trust with the people - all people - and can you maintain the confidence of your staff, your cabinet and agency heads so you can actually effectively govern?"

So why isn't McDonnell joining the chorus of others on both sides of aisle calling on Northam to resign?

"I think God has given us an opportunity though this horrific time in Virginia, where we've been ridiculed and caricatured now around the country - around the world - based on these activities in Richmond, but there's also an opportunity for profound dialogue and healing and reconciliation and repentance," he said.

McDonnell points to images from the state Capitol, when he joined Northam and various elected officials and community activists to proclaim 2019 the year of racial reconciliation - this moment taking place just 16 days before those explosive photos were revealed on Northam's yearbook page at EVMS.

"I just believe looking at my own case in office, there's so much power in this country and our people in the issues of redemption, reconciliation second chances," said McDonnell.

For full coverage on Gov. Northam's yearbook photo controversy, click here.

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