Greitens' attorney pushes back against CNN report on FBI inquiry
ST. LOUIS - A CNN report that the FBI has opened an inquiry into Gov. Eric Greitens "would not be accurate," the governor's attorney, Jim Bennett, said Saturday.
CNN, citing two U.S. officials, reported on Friday the FBI opened an inquiry into Greitens. The network said the scope of the inquiry was not clear. KOMU 8 News, which is an affiliate of CNN, has posted the story.
There was no indication on whether the reported inquiry was related to allegations of blackmail related to an affair Greitens admitted to or concerns about his connection to dark money campaign contributions or some other matter.
Bennett said, "We have seen no indication of an FBI investigation, see no matter that is worthy of such an investigation, and do not believe that one exists."
He said Greitens has not been contacted at any time by the FBI and is not aware of any interest by the FBI.
"To be clear: we do not believe that an FBI investigation exists - not on this personal topic from three years ago or any other,” Bennett said.
CNN also quoted a 22-year-old man who said he volunteered on Greitens' transition team. Eli Karabell, during a phone call Friday night, said all questions should be referred to his attorney.
That attorney, Albert Watkins, said in an email Saturday morning Karabell volunteered for Greitens during the transition period after the November 2016 election until the January 2017 inauguration.
Watkins said Karabell interacted with Greitens officials and lobbied the Republican Party to call for an investigation into dark money. He also wanted answers to questions "about dark money use from others in the Greitens circle."
Watkins said, "My client was thereafter subjected to threatening phone calls; threats to ruin his political career and reputation, physical intimidation, and his family was contacted by a high level state Republican official. My client was threatened with being banned from the state capitol."
Watkins said Karabell spoke with a state legislator about dark money. The legislator, according to Watkins, told Karabell that he had spoken with the FBI about dark money.
Watkins said the FBI later contacted Karabell who spoke with the bureau in St. Louis on Nov. 8, 2017.
"My client says he was advised at the time of the questioning by the FBI Special Agent that the questioning pertained to an investigation into public corruption in the State of Missouri relating to the Governor," Watkins said.
The questioning took about one hour.
"At that time my client was advised he may be contacted for follow-up questioning. No follow-up contact has been received," Watkins said.
Watkins said he has contacted the FBI. He said the FBI told him that the bureau had questioned Karabell.
"The Governor’s private legal counsel has characterized my client’s behavior as being ‘profane and aberrant,’” said Watkins. “Like beauty, that which is profane and aberrant lies in the minds of the beholder. That being said, it should not be at all surprising that the Governor would think that anyone critically inquiring of dark money use was profane and aberrant. One is compelled to embrace the real possibility that the Governor is an expert in all that is aberrant."