Government & Politics

Lawmakers dispute Gov. Greitens’ claims that woman's statements are contradictory

Highlights from investigative report on Missouri Governor Greitens

A special House committee on April 11, 2018, released its report on Gov. Eric Greitens and his 2015 affair with his St. Louis hairdresser.
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A special House committee on April 11, 2018, released its report on Gov. Eric Greitens and his 2015 affair with his St. Louis hairdresser.

Gov. Eric Greitens has argued that St. Louis prosecutors have a videotaped interview of a woman with whom he had an affair that contradicts the account she gave to a House committee that included allegations of physical violence and sexual coercion.

But on Monday, the lawmakers who have been investigating Greitens for nearly two months said they had watched the video in question and it neither exonerates the governor nor clashes with the woman’s testimony to their bipartisan committee.

The woman "described the same facts regarding the morning of March 21, 2015, in her interview with the circuit attorney's office as she did with this committee," a report released Monday said.

Monday's report then laid out side by side comparisons of various pieces of the woman's testimony in the circuit attorney's video and her testimony to the House committee.

"Greitens' claims about the content of the circuit attorney interview mischaracterize the actual testimony received and reviewed by this committee," the report said.

A spokeswoman for Greitens' legal team released a statement Monday proclaiming the governor's innocence and saying any allegations of "sexual violence, coercion, or assault are completely and totally untrue."

The videotaped interview was conducted by a private investigator hired by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to assist in the prosecution of Greitens for felony invasion of privacy. The charge stems from allegations that Greitens took a nude photo of a woman without her consent and threatened to release it to silence her about their 2015 affair.

The woman told the House committee that after threatening her with the photo, Greitens stopped her from leaving his basement, laid her down, fondled her, pulled out his penis and coerced her into oral sex while she wept “uncontrollably.”

She also accused the governor of hitting her on at least two occasions.

The committee released the accusations in a graphic 25-page report earlier this month. Greitens said the report was full of “lies and falsehoods” and called it “one-sided tabloid trash gossip.”

The video interview by Gardner’s private investigator wasn’t turned over to the governor’s attorneys until after the House report became public. Greitens had said it contained evidence that contradicts the story the woman told the House and benefits his case.

“We told people that they needed to see all the evidence,” Greitens said in a statement published on Facebook earlier this month. “And now, we have proof that Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and her team hid evidence from the people of Missouri and from the Missouri House of Representatives — evidence that undermined the narrative pushed in the House report.”

Greitens’ attorneys asked Judge Rex Burlison to dismiss the case over the prosecutor’s failure to turn over the videotaped interview. The judge decided against dismissal but did say Gardner’s office committed "sanctionable" rules violations by failing to turn over some required evidence.

Monday's report from the House includes the woman describing feeling coerced into giving Greitens oral sex while she says she was uncontrollably crying on his basement floor.

She told the circuit attorney that, "I'm crying, like, hysterically at this point. And he was like, shush, it's okay. It's okay. It's okay.... He proceeds to undo his pants and take out his [penis] out of his underwear or whatever. And like, put it near my face."

She later told the circuit attorney she performed oral sex because she felt it was the only way he would let her leave, saying, "I just felt like, I'm going to do this and he'll be satisfied that he had his little whore, and I'm going to leave and I'll never see him again, was what was going through my mind at this point."

Her testimony about the same event to the House committee included her telling lawmakers, "I was laying next to him just crying, like, uncontrollably crying, and he was like, shhhh, shhhh, it's okay, it's okay.... He starts undoing his pants, and he takes his penis out and put it, like near where my face is."

The chairman of the House investigative committee, Republican Rep. Jay Barnes of Jefferson City, said the contents of the videotaped interview does nothing to damage the credibility of the woman or her testimony. The committee's vice chairman, Republican Rep. Don Phillips of Kimberling City, agreed.

Maria Jeffrey, spokeswoman for Greitens' legal defense team, said the the relevance of the video to the case was that it "proved perjury on the part of the leading investigator, suborned perjury on the part of the circuit attorney, and that the lead witness told stories to cover for the perjury of the lead investigator."

The video interview conducted by the circuit attorney’s office, he said, "only reinforces that view as it does not in any way contradict what she told the committee."

Since the release of the House investigative committee's initial report earlier this month, Greitens has faced increased calls for his resignation from his fellow Republicans in the legislature.

Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles, was among the first to call for Greitens to resign when the allegations against him first emerged in January. She said Monday that the latest report reinforces her opinion that the governor should step down.

"It's more complicated up here everyday for [the House] to work, for the Senate to work, and for the governor to govern," Conway said. "And so, yes, I would hope that he would still consider resigning for everybody's sake."

Not all are convinced that its time for the governor to go.

Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, said Monday evening that he hadn't seen the latest release from the House committee. But he said he has serious concerns about how the legislative inquiry has played out, and has expressed those concerns to his GOP colleagues.

"Any discussion of impeachment," he said, "is premature."

Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-St. Louis County, was also an early advocate for Greitens to resign. She said she disagreed with some of her colleagues who argued that the committee shouldn't release Monday's report.

"Why would we have a committee if we're not going to learn what they found," she said Monday. "And I think that at some point, based on what they found, they're entitled to draw a conclusion, because we're not a court of law, we have to make a decision as to whether or not we follow impeachment procedures."

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