Greitens: "Allegations will be proven false" - KCTV5

Greitens: "Allegations will be proven false"

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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says a state House committee's report on an investigation into his extramarital affair with his hairdresser will be "full of lies." (KCTV5) Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says a state House committee's report on an investigation into his extramarital affair with his hairdresser will be "full of lies." (KCTV5)
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -

Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens said Wednesday that a state House committee's report on an investigation into his extramarital affair with his hairdresser will be "full of lies," citing a "political witch hunt."

The governor's comments came an hour before the committee was to release its findings.

The report - along with the governor's upcoming trial on a felony indictment related to the affair and an investigation by fellow Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley into the activities of a veterans charity Greitens founded - have created challenges and uncertainty for the former Navy SEAL officer, who was once considered presidential material. He went so far as to reserve the web address ericgreitensforpresident.com years ago.

On Wednesday night, the governor released another statement: 

This was an entirely consensual relationship, and any allegation of violence or sexual assault is false. This was a months-long consenting relationship between two adults.

The accusations published in the House Committee's report will be directly contradicted by the facts that emerge in court. In just 33 days, a court of law and a jury of my peers will let every person in Missouri know the truth and prove my innocence. 

This was an unfortunate process, in which good people, including some on the committee, were left to try and do the right thing and sort through lies and falsehoods without access to the full facts. In the court of law, everyone will have the facts, and these allegations will be proven false.

After Greitens' initial statement and the release of the report, house leaders from both the Republican and Democratic sides discussed it. 

Missouri House of Representatives Speaker of the House Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) defended the report and called the findings "beyond disturbing." 

"This was not a witch hunt," Richardson said. "I stand by the committee's report. It was prepared by some of the most respected members."

Richardson says he has not spoken with Greitens. 

During a follow-up press conference to Richardson, Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D-Kansas City) said she thinks there's enough for impeachment. 

“Our proceedings do not rise to the level of criminal charges," she said. "What we’ve seen so far is enough for impeachment.”

FULL REPORT (viewer discretion is advised): 

Greitens' spokesman, Parker Briden, told The Associated Press by email that the governor's administration has been "operating as normal."

But Republican consultant John Hancock said the "constant retelling of the underlying facts of the affair has had a debilitating effect on the governor, as it would any elected official."

The allegations are to be publicly aired again, perhaps with their greatest detail yet, when a special House investigatory committee releases a report Wednesday evening.

It was just hours after his State of the State speech in January that Greitens released a statement admitting to an affair that began and ended in 2015. The statement came after the ex-husband of Greitens' former hairdresser released to a St. Louis TV station audio that he secretly recorded of the woman discussing the affair with him.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched an investigation over an allegation that Greitens tried to blackmail the woman into silence by threatening to release a photo he allegedly took of her without her consent while she was blindfolded and partially nude in the basement of Gretiens' St. Louis home.

A grand jury in February indicted Greitens on one felony count of invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting the photo. The case goes to trial May 14.

"In just 33 days a court of law and a jury of my peers will let every person in Missouri know the truth and prove my innocence," Greitens told journalists gathered in his office Wednesday before the report was set to be released.

The panel launched its probe shortly after Greitens was indicted in February on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge for taking and transmitting a nonconsensual photo of the woman in 2015, before he won the election.

Greitens has acknowledged having a consensual affair but hasn't directly answered questions about whether he took a photo and has denied criminal wrongdoing.

Scott Simpson, an attorney for the woman, said this week that Greitens has told his client on multiple occasions that he photographed her without her consent and threatened to release the image if she told anyone about their relationship.

Greitens' supporters have called the criminal case a political witch hunt.

In March, a special House legislative committee launched its own investigation, a potential precursor to impeachment proceedings. Greitens' lawyers have repeatedly asked to delay the report, publicizing a series of critical letters and court documents to reporters as the expected release date approached in an effort to portray it as inaccurate and potentially damaging to the governor's right to a fair trial.

Separately, Hawley is investigating The Mission Continues, the veterans charity founded by Greitens, as it relates to the state's consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting laws. That probe came after media reports that Greitens' campaign obtained and used the charity's donor list in 2015 as he began raising money for his gubernatorial bid.

With so much swirling around Greitens personally, Republican legislative leaders have issued assurances that they will continue with business as usual despite potential turmoil in the governor's office.

"No matter how things go, we'll have a very good steady leadership in both chambers," Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe said last week.

While Briden said the governor continues to work with lawmakers to pass his agenda, Greitens has played a less antagonistic role in the Legislature this year.

During his first year in office, Greitens issued personal attacks against state senators who went against his will on policy, called the Legislature back for two special sessions, angered senators for his role in stacking numerous boards and commissions with his appointees and, at one point, compared lawmakers to third-graders.

Greitens' swaggering public persona has changed since the scandal broke, University of Missouri-St. Louis political scientist Dave Robertson said.

"The aggressiveness has been tempered substantially and he's gone from playing offense to playing defense," Robertson said.

Still, Robertson said the already chilly relationship between Greitens and many of his Republican colleagues could haunt the governor.

"I would say that the obvious inability in the current climate, which is so highly polarized, to keep members of your party rallying behind you, particularly in the Legislature, is a very bad sign for someone who wants to govern effectively, create a record, and perhaps move on to another office," he said.

This is a developing story. 

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