Missouri’s Governor Faces The Credible Threat Of Impeachment

U.S. Coast Guard Academy/Public Domain

State lawmakers have called for a special session to debate the possibility of impeachment.

Republican Governor Eric Greitens faces a new challenge in Missouri as state lawmakers called for a special session Thursday to consider initiating impeachment proceedings.

Greitens, once considered a rising star in the Republican party, is up against two felonies – one felony invasion of privacy charge relating to alleged abuse during an extramarital affair, and two felony counts of computer tampering during his 2016 campaign for governor.

So far, the governor has resisted calls for his resignation, but The Washington Post reports that state lawmakers are now taking the matter into their own hands.

It is the first time in Missouri’s history that state legislators have called for a special session, House Speaker Todd Richardson (R) said in a news conference Thursday. The special session is set to begin on May 18, just days after the start of Greitens’s criminal trial, and will last no more than 30 days. It will allow lawmakers to continue investigating the governor’s conduct and consider taking disciplinary action against him, Richardson said.

“This path is not the one that I would have chosen for Missourians or my colleagues,” Richardson said. “I have hoped from the beginning of this process that the committee would find no wrongdoing so that we could bring this investigation to a close. … Unfortunately this is where the facts led.”

Those investigations resulted in two damning reports:

The first provided dramatic evidence of an extramarital affair with Greitens’s former hairdresser, who the committee deemed a “credible witness.” The woman testified that in 2015, before Greitens’s gubernatorial run, he groped her, slapped her and threatened to blackmail her. She alleged that he blindfolded her and taped her hands to exercise equipment and that she felt “coerced” to perform oral sex on him.

The second House report, released Wednesday, detailed allegations that Greitens used a donor list from a private charity to raise campaign funds, lying about it to the state’s ethics commission.

Catherine Hanaway, legal counsel to Greitens’ campaign and former speaker of the Missouri House, lambasted the second report saying it “does a tremendous disservice to the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions” and claiming that lawmakers failed to have campaign officials testify during the investigation.

Richardson on Thursday disputed this, saying that from the beginning, the House committee “has made itself available” to testimony from the governor, welcoming any documents and witnesses from his legal team. “So the assertion that the committee has not done its work in reviewing all the evidence is not something I agree with.”

If the House decides to impeach, it will be the first time in Missouri’s history that a governor faces such a situation.

Greitens appears undaunted: In a statement following the two most recent felony charges, the governor indicated he will fight the allegations and is confident he will be cleared.

“I will have my day in court. I will clear my name. This prosecutor can come after me with everything she’s got, but as all faithful people know: In time comes the truth. And the time for truth is coming,” he said in a statement.