Missouri lawmakers speak out after Greitens report release
JEFFERSON CITY - A House Investigative Committee report on Gov. Eric Greitens' blackmail scandal features testimony of a "sensitive and sexual nature" using "coarse language" and an "unfiltered record of witness testimony."
Just 30 minutes before the report was made public, Greitens said he fully expected it to be full of "lies and falsehoods."
"This is a political witch hunt," he said.
A short while later, House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, disagreed.
“Let me be very clear about this: This is not a witch hunt, and the committee had no political agenda,” he said.
The report features testimony from the woman at the center of the scandal. She told the committee Greitens took a nude photo of her and threatened to make it public if she told anyone.
The report said, "Witness 1 testified that Greitens then said, 'You’re not going to mention my name. Don’t even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can. They are going to be everywhere, and then everyone will know what a little w**** you are.'”
The woman said Greitens bound and blindfolded her and ripped her shirt before taking the picture.
The woman testified Greitens pursued her and groped her without consent before the affair began. She also told the commitee Greitens slapped her when she told him she had slept with her husband during the affair.
The report quoted the woman as saying, "And he slapped me across my face, just like hard to where I was like, What? Eric, what in the heck?"
Greitens said Wednesday he never slapped the woman, and he once again insisted he never blackmailed her.
He said, "The people interviewed by the committee face no consequences for telling lies."
The committee said it found the woman to be "an overall credible witness."
In a late afternoon statement, committee democrats said, the committee "will not be deterred by Eric Greitens’ baseless attacks on our witnesses, our integrity or our common sense."
The house investigation spanned more than 40 days. The committee convened shortly after Greitens' indictment on invasion of privacy charges stemming from the affair.
Greitens said the committee did its work in secret and no one who was representing him was allowed into the room.
"Keep in mind how this was written. No standards of evidence were used. No witnesses were cross-examined," he said.
The committee report said Greitens declined the opportunity to testify and "failed to respond to the committee's request" for documents.
Greitens' trial is set to begin May 14. He had asked the committee to hold off on reporting its findings until after the trial ends.
"In just 33 days, a court of law and a jury of my peers will let every person in Missouri know the truth and prove my innocence," Greitens said. "In 33 days, this witch hunt will come to an end."
The House committee is extending its investigation until May 18.
Richardson said, “The testimony outlined in the report is beyond disturbing. And to that end, to continue its work, to gather additional information that comes to light."
He said the process will not be fast.
“The committee will not be in a position to make recommendations before the end of the session," he said.
The report has triggered new calls for Greitens' resignation. House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, said the governor needs to step down for "the good of the state."
"If he fails to do so, we must begin impeachment proceedings," she said.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley also called for Greitens to resign.
“The House Investigative Committee’s Report contains shocking, substantial, and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Governor Greitens," Hawley said in a statement. "The conduct 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. Governor Greitens should resign immediately.”
But Greitens shut down the resignation idea in his address.
"I will continue to serve the people of Missouri as their governor and work for you every day," he said. "And they know, they need to know, that fake charges and falsehoods aren’t gonna stop us."
The public relations firm working with Greitens released a statement on his behalf later Wednesday night. It said:
"This was an entirely consensual relationship, and any allegation of violence or sexual assault is false. This was a months-long consenting relationship between two adults.
Given the explicit nature of the committee report, KOMU 8 News is not publishing it here on its website. We are providing the link to the report on the House website for those who wish to read the original document. Again, much of the testimony is very graphic and many would consider it inappropriate for children.