Government & Politics

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says he's target of ‘political witch hunt,’ vows to fight

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens defiantly bucked calls for his resignation ahead of the release of a legislative report dealing with allegations of blackmail and sexual misconduct.

Greitens, who refused to testify before the committee, said less than an hour before its release that the report from a bipartisan panel of lawmakers would include “lies and falsehoods.”

He repeatedly referred to the legislative investigation as a “political witch hunt” and blasted lawmakers for not waiting until the conclusion of his May trial for felony invasion of privacy to conduct their investigation.

“If the committee had waited 33 days, they would have received a full set of facts,” Greitens told reporters.

“In 33 days, this witch hunt will come to an end,” he said.

He repeatedly used this phrase, echoing President Donald Trump's complaints about the ongoing investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 campaign.

Greitens has admitted to the 2015 extramarital affair but has repeatedly denied allegations of blackmail or physical violence against the woman.

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“This was a private mistake. It has nothing to do with politics and should have nothing to do with governance,” he said.

He repeated a claim from his legal team that the woman may have dreamed the incident. Her lawyer has said Greitens’ team took this comment out of context and has called for the full release of her testimony for the St. Louis case.

He said he was a victim of slander and that his accusers have faced "no consequences for telling lies."

The legislative report was released at 5 p.m.

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Democratic leaders have already begun calling for the legislature to begin impeachment proceedings if Greitens does not step down.

“Based on the shocking and unsettling events detailed in this report, we have no faith in Eric Greitens’ ability to effectively govern. He must resign immediately. If he refuses to do the right thing, the Missouri House of Representatives should move forward with the impeachment process," Senate Democratic Leader Gina Walsh said in a statement.

House Democratic Leader Gail McCann Beatty of Kansas City said that if Greitens does not resign, "it will be the duty of the House of Representatives to restore integrity to the executive branch of state government."

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