If Missouri lawmakers proceed with impeachment, Gov. Eric Greitens wants the process to resemble a criminal trial, one of the governor's attorneys said in a letter to the chairman of the House investigative committee.
Edward Greim, an attorney with the Kansas City law firm Graves Garrett who was hired to represent the governor's office in any possible impeachment proceedings, sent a letter dated May 11 to Rep. Jay Barnes, the committee's chairman. Greim said in his letter that "both branches of the government share a common interest in arriving at the truth in a way that does justice to the gravity of this unique moment in the history of our constitution and our state."
It is widely believed that the committee that's been investigating the governor since early March will hold a public hearing at some point during the special session, after which it could introduce articles of impeachment that would progress through the legislative process just like any other bill.
Greim wants a more formalized process in which counsel for the governor can cross-examine any witnesses who testify, present documentary evidence and witnesses, issue subpoenas and "otherwise participate in the committee’s proceedings to protect the Constitutional rights of the governor and the Office of the Governor."
Greim laid out a proposed timeline for the special legislative session that is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday:
▪ On or before May 18, the House would disclose a list of issues to be addressed in disciplinary/impeachment proceedings and adopt rules of procedure.
▪ On May 21, the committee would disclose a list of witnesses and exhibits. Two days later, the governor's attorneys would disclose a list of witnesses and exhibits.
▪ On May 24, the speaker would issue subpoenas on behalf of the committee and the governor's office.
▪ From June 4 through June 8, hearings would be conducted, followed by closing arguments.
▪ The House committee would make its recommendation, which could include impeachment, on June 11.
The special session is constitutionally obligated to end June 17. So by the governor's time table, that would leave six days for the House to debate and approve articles of impeachment and for the Senate to approve seven judges to hear the case.
Barnes could not immediately be reached for comment. But in a previous statement, the committee's special counsel — former state Supreme Court Justice Chip Robertson — said Greitens' legal team didn't seem to understand how the impeachment process works.
The public trial, where Greitens' attorneys will be able to call witnesses and present a case, will be conducted by the Senate-selected judges, not the House.
"The House is not convicting anyone," Robertson wrote. "Rather, the House serves to determine whether a public official should be impeached. Impeachment is akin to an indictment by a grand jury in some, but certainly not all, ways. Like an indictment, an impeachment is followed by a trial where due process is honored and the official impeached is given a fair hearing."
Greitens faces a litany of accusations, ranging from allegations of sexual violence in 2015 to knowingly filing false campaign finance reports in 2017.