Frustration begins to emerge as special committee continues inve - KCTV5 News

Frustration begins to emerge as special committee continues investigating Greitens

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The special Missouri House committee has been investigating for 88 days, the special session has lasted for a week, and frustration is starting to show on both sides.

Most of the focus so far has been on the Governor’s extramarital affair and a charity donor list he’s accused of using for campaign purposes.

However, Governor Eric Greitens is also involved in a lawsuit over his use of a message-deleting app called Confide.

On Friday, the tension came to the top after Representative Curtis Trent was given paperwork from Greitens’ legal team. It was paperwork Ed Dowd said would not be made available because of a judge’s order.

The discovery surprised several committee members.

“We have already made a determination as a committee that we will not accept cherry-picked evidence,” said Rep. Gina Mitten.

Jay Barnes, a Republican from Jefferson City and the chairperson of the committee, had strong words for Michelle Nassar, one of Greitens’ attorneys.

“It’s offensive to this committee and it’s offensive to this process,” he said. “I’m just here as an observer,” she said.

Barnes apologized after a closed session. “After, with a little time, Ms. Nassar was set up as a fall person,” he said.

Barnes has repeatedly asked for documents from Greitens’ lawyers and, soon, the governor may testify for himself. The committee issued a subpoena for the state’s leader on Friday and he has been called to appear on June 4.

When the committee came back from its second closed session of the day, it adjourned an expert witness after the meeting broke down in a shouting match.

He is expected to come back, but the meeting was adjourned until Tuesday.

Before he left, however, he told the committee what he found -- including the Confide app.

The committee was digging into that app for multiple reasons. They want to know how it works, what it hides, and how long the governor used it.

It was on his old phone that was used in 2015, so the governor appears to be very familiar with it. That phone was examined under court order to see if there were any incriminating images on it.

For nearly six months, Missourians have wanted to know what happened between the governor and K.S. in March of 2015. They want to know whether he took a picture of her and threatened her with it.

That expert witness, Brian Koberna, told the committee that he never found the inappropriate picture on the phone that was mentioned in the lawsuit. He did note that there were other pictures.

“Those three images are benign in nature,” he said.

Koberna looked at three phones. One for the governor, one for K.S., and one for the man who is now K.S.’s ex-husband.

“To be clear, just because I don’t find a photograph or don’t find an item doesn’t mean it did not exist,” he said.

Koberna also told the committee that Greitens had five phone lines attached to his name at that time.

Greitens has been in a harsh spotlight for using the Confide app that erases text messages because it might violate the Sunshine Law.

The committee has a wide range of what they can investigate and consider.

There are several current investigations happening. There is the invasion of privacy case that’s currently dismissed but is being reviewed by a special prosecutor. There is the felony computer tampering charge that involves Greitens’ charity The Mission Continues. Washington University is investigating to see if he misused grant funds. Additionally, there are allegations about “dark money” and shell corporations.

Greitens admits no wrongdoing and has called the investigations political witch hunts.

Late on Friday, Michelle Nasser released the following statement: 

“I was a federal prosecutor for 13 years. I’ve appeared before many judges and have engaged in countless matters with opposing counsel. I have never been treated in such an unprofessional manner as I was today by Chairman Jay Barnes during today’s Committee hearings. Chairman Barnes’s demeaning treatment of me was completely unsolicited and deeply disrespectful.  I believe the Committee's commitment to openness, courtesy, and fairness is being undermined by Chairman Barnes.  I have never been the subject of public beratement ever, as I was by Chairman Barnes for several minutes today.  Today was the first day I had any interaction Chairman Barnes, and he seemed to take pleasure in shouting at me for no apparent reason.  Also, the statements Chairman Barnes made today about my law partner are untrue.

The day began with Chairman Barnes ordering me to leave a session during which the Committee apparently was reviewing audio evidence.  The Committee had voted for the session to be closed, but I believe the rules allow the Governor's lawyers to be in the room during both open and closed sessions. When I asked to attend and observe the presentation of the evidence, Chairman Barnes accused me of attempting to “hijack” the hearing.  When I explained my understanding of the rules, he threatened to call the sergeant-at-arms to forcibly remove me. 

Later, during an open hearing, I was sitting silently in the audience, and Chairman Barnes yelled at me for several minutes with the cameras rolling.  Chairman Barnes apparently thought I was deserving of his tirade because the Committee was asked to consider exculpatory evidence.  This evidence was presumably included when Chairman Barnes received the Circuit Attorney's entire file, which Ms. Gardner provided in violation of Judge Burlison’s order.

Today's attack on me from the Chairman, his unwarranted accusations against my law partner, the secretive nature of the Chairman's work, and his questionable associations with material witnesses like Scott Faughn should concern us all. This is not a fair process designed to get at the truth.

– Michelle Nasser, Legal Counsel to Gov. Eric Greitens" 

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