Calls for Greitens to resign grow

Kehoe, saying Greitens has 'lost moral authority,' becomes highest ranking legislator to call for him to step down

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens held a news conference Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in his Capitol office in Jefferson City ahead of the House investigatory report released shortly afterward.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens held a news conference Wednesday, April 11, 2018, in his Capitol office in Jefferson City ahead of the House investigatory report released shortly afterward.

Previous coverage of Greitens investigations


Missouri Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe on Thursday became the highest-ranking Republican state lawmaker calling for Greitens to immediately resign following the release of a legislative report detailing testimony from a woman who said Greitens slapped, grabbed, shoved and threatened her during unwanted sexual encounters.

The Jefferson City senator said Greitens has lost his "moral authority" and called the contents of the report "disturbing and disgusting."

"Should the governor choose not to resign, I am persuaded that he has not only burned bridges, he has blown them up to where it will be impossible for him to effectively lead the state going forward," Kehoe said. "Remaining in office reeks of the self-serving actions of a 'career politician' the governor has mockingly derided since his inauguration."

Kehoe responded directly to Greitens' claim Wednesday that the allegations are a "political witch hunt."

"The investigation is not a 'witch-hunt,' nor are the contents of the report 'tabloid trash,'" Kehoe said. "The governor will have his day in court to determine his guilt or innocence on the charge he was indicted for."

Other Republicans calling for Greitens' resignation include Joplin businessman and megadonor David Humphreys - who gave Greitens nearly $1.3 million - and Attorney General Josh Hawley, a top challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who also said Greitens should quit.

Republican state Sen. Rob Schaaf, a vocal Greitens critic, wrote a letter Thursday to Trump asking the commander-in-chief to request Greitens, a former military officer, step down.

Greitens has vowed to remain in office and denied any violence or criminal wrongdoing in what he insists was "an entirely consensual relationship" with his former St. Louis hairdresser as he was preparing to run for governor in 2015.

The legislative committee's investigation of Greitens began after he was charged in February by a St. Louis grand jury with felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting a nonconsensual photo of the woman while she was partially nude. He is to go to trial May 14.

In court Thursday, his attorneys asked for the case to be dismissed. They asserted the St. Louis prosecutors' office had engaged in misconduct and potential perjury by initially saying that a video recorder had malfunctioned during a March interview of the woman. Greitens' attorneys say prosecutors shared the video with them Wednesday night - only after the release of the Legislature's report - and that the woman's testimony in the video backs up Greitens' claim of a consensual encounter.

"This woman is not a victim," Greitens' attorney Jim Martin said. "She was a willing participant in everything they did, and the video goes a long way to establish that."

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a court filing later Thursday that she supplied the video once her office determined it could be accessed. She accused Greitens' attorneys of using "diversionary tactics" to shift the focus from his "illegal and reprehensible conduct."

The woman's name never has been officially released; it is redacted from the legislative documents and she is identified only by her initials in court filings.

The woman's attorney, Scott Simpson, declined to comment on the video, citing a gag order in the criminal case.

Greitens said in a statement that the video testimony "directly contradicted allegations in the House report" and any allegations of "coercion, violence and assault" are false.

Republican legislative leaders said they would start gathering signatures from colleagues next week to call themselves into a special session to consider potential disciplinary action against Greitens.

The special House investigatory committee is to make a recommendation after the regular session ends May 18 about whether Greitens should face impeachment proceedings to try to oust him. It's also expected to release a second report focused on potential campaign finance violations involving Greitens' use of a charity donor list to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign.

Impeachment proceedings can operate independently from a criminal trial. The state constitution lays out several grounds for impeachment, including "moral turpitude," although there is disagreement on whether the offending behavior must occur while a person is in office.

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