After the defense called Gardner as a witness, she couldn’t continue, and issued a furious statement decrying the governor’s “scorched-earth legal and media strategy” and attacks on “the intentions, character and integrity of every person involved in investigating the Governor’s behavior.” No doubt about that.
But the prosecutor never located the semi-naked photo of his former hairdresser that Greitens stood accused of taking and threatening to use against her. Without it, Gardner would have had a hard time proving his guilt on that particular charge. Then, the governor’s defenders would have argued that he’d been exonerated of all wrongdoing, and thus should keep his job.
No, no and no. Gardner has said that a special prosecutor or one of her deputies may refile the charge. And it’s possible that a special prosecutor could now file the sexual assault case that we’ve wondered why she didn’t bring instead. Apparently, she didn’t yet have evidence about the alleged assault when she filed the invasion of privacy case, based largely on a secretly taped conversation between the victim and her then-husband.
Prosecutors also have what’s always been considered a better case against Greitens on accusations that he stole a donor list from the charity he started, The Mission Continues, and illegally used it to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign. He’s also been accused of knowingly lying on a campaign report and of misusing for political purposes a grant he was supposed to use to research a book on his “hard-won wisdom.”
On Friday, a special session on Greitens’ possible impeachment is set to begin, and it should go forward as planned. After the invasion of privacy case was dropped, Senate GOP leaders said in a strong statement that “the governor has lost the moral authority and the ability to lead the state going forward, and we reaffirm our call that he resign immediately.” When the House committee is ready, said Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, “they will present what they found to the full House and they will make a decision based on the facts, and not from what you may or may not be seeing in St. Louis.”
As Republican strategist Gregg Keller said on Monday, “Eric Greitens has committed as many as a dozen impeachable offenses. All of his defenders are going to say this is a great day for him, but it’s the opposite, because now Kim Gardner has a case she can win.”
The governor himself proclaimed the dropped charges “a great victory” and said “I’ve emerged from it a changed man,” though one who still insists he did nothing criminal. “In time comes the truth,” he said, and let’s hope that time is soon.
Impeachment doesn’t require a guilty verdict, but a finding of “misconduct, habitual drunkenness, willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude or oppression in office.” Moral turpitude, did somebody say? It’s encouraging that lawmakers in both parties know that unlike Gardner, they must proceed carefully.