To say Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, a Republican who rode to victory on the Trump/outsider wave in 2016, is embattled at the moment is an understatement. As we first reported in January, Greitens has been in hot water since news broke of an affair he engaged in just as he was beginning to mount his candidacy for the Governor’s Mansion, including allegations that Greitens photographed his mistress and threatened publication of the photograph in order to ensure her silence regarding their liaisons. Greitens acknowledged the affair at the time but flatly denied any threat or hint of blackmail.
Nevertheless, newly installed Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis, Kim Gardner, launched an investigation into the matter and ultimately charged Greitens with Felony Invasion of Privacy. That the criminal investigation has its own issues was set out fairly thoroughly several weeks ago by Dave Grossman at The Federalist. Given the lack of a photograph or any apparent evidence of its transmission, many are wondering how the Circuit Attorney can possibly hope to prove her case at the trial, which is set for the week of May 14th. (Not that there’s any political motivation afoot or anything, but the Circuit Attorney’s request to delay the trial until early November was denied by the Trial Court.)
While the criminal case has been proceeding apace (and being preliminarily tried in the media, at least up until Trial Judge Rex Burlison issued a gag order on Tuesday), the Missouri House Committee on Oversight launched its own investigation into the matter. This afternoon, despite requests from Greitens’ counsel that it be delayed until after the trial next month, the Special Investigative Committee issued a report on its findings thus far. And, boy, is it a doozy.
The 24-page report details (really details) testimony from the woman with whom Greitens had the affair. The description of their encounters is salacious, tawdry, and unsettling. It’s more information than you’d ever really want to know — about anyone, not to mention your Governor. It paints Greitens as manipulative, controlling, and physically aggressive in their encounters. His mistress comes across as extraordinarily conflicted, though her detailed accounts of their interactions and the corroborating testimony of two of her close friends seemingly lend credence to her story. And her (now) ex-husband (whom First Lady Sheena Greitens has now accused of cyberstalking her) hardly comes away smelling like a rose.
Following the release of the report late this afternoon, numerous lawmakers have called for Governor Greitens to resign.
Pressure mounts for Missouri governor to resign over sex scandal https://t.co/8bxGSFAmXZ
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 12, 2018
Senator Claire McCaskill (Democrat) has weighed in.
I have read the official report from the Republican led Missouri House investigation, including the sworn testimony. It is clearly time to put the interests of the people of Missouri first. The Governor should resign.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) April 12, 2018
Her likely opponent in the upcoming Senate race, Missouri’s Attorney General (and fellow Republican of Greitens), Josh Hawley, has called for Greitens to resign immediately, calling the report’s revelations “impeachable.”
And Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson (R) has announced that House and Senate leadership would “begin the process of calling a special session so that the Legislature has the opportunity to consider any recommendations of the committee.”
The “outsider” doesn’t have many allies among the political class. While Greitens has defiantly referred to the investigation as a political witch hunt, and though it doesn’t appear that the information revealed — no matter how salacious — does much to shore up the elements of the crime with which he is charged, it’s difficult to envision him emerging from this with his political future (and rumored presidential ambitions) intact.
So, to review, Missouri’s Governor, the former Navy SEAL (and Democrat-turned-Republican) who splashily campaigned as an outsider under attack by “Obama’s Democrat machine,” while loading and firing a machine gun, sits under felony indictment for allegedly snapping (and transmitting in some, to date, unspecified way) a photograph of a woman with whom he engaged in an affair just as he was launching his campaign for Governor (and whose ex-husband tape recorded her confession of their encounter, went to the media with it, and is alleged to have cyberstalked the Governor’s wife), and now is being asked to step down by his own party’s state leadership, the sitting Democratic U.S. Senator and her presumptive Republican opponent, the state’s current Attorney General. Never a dull moment in the Show-Me State!
Update: Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Mo) has also issued a statement on the matter:
BREAKING Missouri GOP Rep. Ann Wagner says Greitens "unfit to lead our state" –> "This is a sad chapter in our history that should never have come to pass. The transcripts paint the picture of a vulnerable woman and a man who preyed on that vulnerability. I am disgusted."
— Lindsay Wise (@lindsaywise) April 12, 2018