Pressure grows for Missouri Governor Greitens to step down

Politics


(Reuters) – Missouri Governor Eric Greitens on Thursday faced another day of bipartisan pressure to resign or face impeachment after the release of a report finding that he abused and tried to blackmail a woman with whom he was having an affair.

FILE PHOTO: Missouri Governor Eric Greitens appears in a police booking photo in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., February 22, 2018. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept./Handout via REUTERS

The most recent calls for the married father of two to step down came after a special committee of the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives released its 24-page report on Wednesday regarding the scandal.

Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Claire McCaskill, said the report “contains shocking, substantial and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing” by the 44-year-old governor.

“The conduct the report details is certainly impeachable, in my judgment,” Hawley said in a statement. “The people of Missouri should not be put through that ordeal. Governor Greitens should resign immediately.”

Greitens, who was charged in February with felony invasion of privacy in connection with an admitted extramarital affair in 2015, before his election, repeated on Wednesday that he is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing and called the relationship in question “entirely consensual.”

Greitens said he was determined to stay in office while fighting to clear his name in court. He said he was the victim of a “political witch-hunt” stemming from a “private mistake” that had nothing to do with his job as governor.

According to the House report, the woman recounted their first liaison as a menacing and coerced sexual encounter in which he bound her hands, blindfolded her and ripped off her clothes without her consent before snapping a photo of her and threatening to disseminate the image if their affair became public.

Greitens has denied threatening to blackmail the woman, a hair stylist referred to only as “Witness 1”.

The woman testified that she ultimately agreed to perform oral sex on Greitens so she could leave, saying the interaction left her frightened, humiliated and disgusted. She acknowledged consenting to several more sexual encounters over the next few months before finally insisting that they cease further contact.

The report describes in lurid detail a tumultuous, months-long affair punctuated by instances of physical abuse, jealous rage and manipulative behavior by Greitens.

The Missouri state constitution counts “moral turpitude” as grounds for impeachment.

“The Governor has to resign period!!!,” State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., a Democrat, said on Twitter. “It’s time to go!”

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Scott Malone and Chizu Nomiyama



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