The criminal case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who is accused of attempting to blackmail a woman with whom he had an affair, has taken a turn for the bizarre.
Greitens’ attorneys claimed in a Sunday court filing that the woman testified that she may have only dreamed up or imagined the core allegation of the felony charge: that in 2015, the governor took a nonconsensual photograph of her after tying her up and partially undressing her, with the intent to transmit it.
But on Monday night, the woman’s lawyer struck back, accusing Greitens’ team of mischaracterizing his client’s nine-hour testimony. Greitens admitted to the woman “on multiple occasions” that he took the photo without her permission and threatened to release it, attorney Scott Simpson said in a statement provided to TPM.
Greitens, who took office in 2017, has said he engaged in the extramarital affair, but has denied that he took the photo or sought to silence his former lover.
The latest drama stems from the woman’s Friday deposition at the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Per the defense’s Sunday motion, she testified that she could not say under oath that she saw Greitens held up a phone.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m remembering it through a dream or I — I’m not sure, but yes, I feel like I saw it after it happened, but I haven’t spoken about it because of that,” the woman said, according to the filing.
The defense accused St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who is prosecuting the case, of neglecting to turn over previous, similar statements the woman had made.
In response, Simpson, the woman’s lawyer, called for the release of the complete transcript of her testimony.
“Gov. Greitens needs to take responsibility for his actions and be honest about the fact that he took my client’s photograph without her consent,” Simpson continued, accusing Greitens of attempting to “try this case in the media.”
Gardner’s office had a similar response on Monday, accusing the defense of filing “frivolous motions” and playing “political games” in order to “deflect public attention from other matters facing the Governor,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
This messy state of affairs has clouded the governor’s brief tenure in office, prompting calls for his impeachment and a GOP-led state House investigation into the allegations against him. The committee conducting the probe is set to release its preliminary findings this week, and to recommend action once the investigation concludes on May 18. The governor’s felony trial is slated to start four days earlier.