Subpoenas were issued Wednesday to Attorney General Josh Hawley and his office after Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday asked the Cole County Circuit Court to appoint a special prosecutor in Hawley's investigation of The Mission Continues and asked for a temporary restraining order against Hawley.
The attorney general told The Associated Press the lawsuit was a "frivolous motion."
Attorney Michelle Nasser wrote in the nine-page lawsuit: "Hawley must recuse himself and his entire office from any investigation or prosecution related to Gov. Greitens or the Governor's Office. If such investigation or prosecution is to be conducted, it must be conducted by a court-appointed special prosecutor independent of the" attorney general's office.
The lawsuit argued Hawley has a conflict of interest in investigating Greitens, after Hawley last week said Greitens should resign as governor.
"It is axiomatic that investigators and prosecutors not prejudge any persons they investigate or prosecute," Greitens' lawsuit said. "Attorney General Hawley recognized as much in his statements to Fox News Yet Attorney General Hawley proceeded to make comments that have compromised his investigation, just as he once assured he would not. He and the (attorney general's office) are now conflicted from this investigation."
The lawsuit was filed after Greitens' attorneys first asked Hawley to recuse himself from investigating Greitens and The Mission Continues, the veterans-related charity the governor helped form in 2007, because of the attorney general's comments a week ago — and Hawley's office responded: "We have reviewed your request, and we have concluded that it has no merit at all."
Hawley's comments last week came after a special House committee released a report detailing an affair Greitens had in 2015 with his hairdresser — including allegations the then-future governor tied the woman to exercise bars in the basement of his St. Louis home, ripped off some of the clothes he had her put on, took her picture without her permission and convinced her to have oral sex with him.
The governor has admitted to the affair but denied the other allegations, calling them "falsehoods and lies."
Hawley said in a news release last week: "The House Investigative Committee's report contains shocking, substantial and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Gov. Greitens. The conduct in the report details is certainly impeachable, in my judgment, and the House is well within its rights to proceed on that front. But the people of Missouri should not be put through that ordeal. Gov. Greitens should resign immediately."
Greitens' lawsuit argued that statement was a change-of-position from previous comments Hawley had made, including his telling Fox News on March 28, five days after announcing he'd issued subpoenas in The Mission Continues probe: "I don't want to say anything that would compromise in any way my investigation, which is ongoing, or the other law enforcement activities, but the situation is very grave."
The new case was assigned to Circuit Judge Jon Beetem.
The lawsuit said Greitens' attorneys had "notified the AGO of its intent to file this Verified Petition and to have it heard before this Court on April 19, 2018."
However, no hearing date or time had been set as of Wednesday evening.
A day after the lawsuit was filed, Hawley told reporters his staff had evidence that Greitens had taken donor and email lists from The Mission Continues and used them for his political campaign — and that he also had shared that information with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
Because he raised more than $500, Hawley said, the governor could face a felony criminal charge of tampering with a computer.
Gardner's office would have to prosecute the case, since the alleged crime occurred in St. Louis.
Less than 12 hours after Hawley told reporters his staff had evidence Greitens had taken donor and email lists from The Mission Continues and used them for his political campaign, Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty filed a resolution Tuesday evening asking the House to begin the process of impeaching Greitens.
The resolution noted the House on March 1 unanimously approved creation of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, to investigate allegations against the governor, and that the committee last week submitted a report "which consisted of detailed actions taken by the highest official in the state that are disturbing, abusive, and criminal."
McCann Beatty's resolution noted that existing House rules require that any proposed impeachment resolutions be referred to a committee designated by the speaker, and that only that committee may introduce formal impeachment articles.
If the committee determines impeachment is necessary, the proposal must be treated like any other bill and "read by title on three separate days."
Since the Special Investigative Committee, chaired by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, already has been created, McCann Beatty's resolution charged that committee with introducing the articles of impeachment.
That committee met for about 45 minutes Wednesday and is scheduled to meet again at 8 a.m. Thursday and at 2 p.m. Monday — again in closed sessions.