“Disgusting.” “Shocking.” “An absolute disgrace.”
The Missouri political world reacted with a swift, damning chorus to a state legislative report released Wednesday detailing allegations that Gov. Eric Greitens engaged in coerced sexual activity, physical violence and attempted blackmail against a woman with whom he carried out a 2015 affair.
Several top state political figures said Greitens should step down.
Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, a one-time Greitens ally, called for the governor to “resign immediately” over the “impeachable” conduct described in the report.
“The House Investigative Committee’s Report contains shocking, substantial, and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Governor Greitens,” Hawley said in a Wednesday evening statement.
Hawley is currently challenging U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for her Senate seat. McCaskill also called on Greitens to step down, criticizing him for putting his “wife and children through this kind of pain.”
“The transcripts paint the picture of a vulnerable woman and a man who preyed on that vulnerability. I am disgusted, disheartened, and I believe Governor Greitens is unfit to lead our state,” Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner (R) said in a statement.
Republican Rep. Jean Evans used similar language, saying “violence against women is always wrong” and Greitens should “do what is in the best interest of the people of Missouri and resign.”
Other Republican lawmakers who had previously called for Greitens’ departure issued scathing statements of their own. Sen. Caleb Rowden (R) was one of the few calling for Greitens’ impeachment, while Rep. Kevin Engler (R) said he should step down, though it was ultimately his decision.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, one of Missouri’s representative in the U.S. House and a stalwart Trump ally, told the Kansas City Star that Greitens’ behavior “surpasses disturbing” and that his alleged behavior is not “befit for a leader in Missouri or anywhere else for that matter.”
Missouri Democrats went much further, saying in no uncertain terms that Greitens no longer had any business leading the state.
The Republican leaders of the legislature have strongly condemned the behavior described in the report but so far stopped short of calling for Greitens to step down.
Greitens has offered no indication that he plans to resign. In his own Wednesday statement, the governor insisted that the relationship was “entirely consensual” and denied allegations of violence and sexual assault.
Greitens faces a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking a nude photo of the woman without her consent and threatening to share it if she took their relationship public. The woman described the incident in graphic detail in her sworn testimony before the House committee. Greitens has denied taking the image or attempting to threaten her.
He has called the probe a “political witch hunt,” likening his experience to that of scandal-plagued President Donald Trump.
But the seven-person House panel, which determined the woman to be a “credible” witness, was composed of two Democrats and five Republicans. Missouri’s GOP leadership said they plan to call for a special session on the governor’s impeachment once the committee issues its final report on May 18.
Per the woman’s testimony, Greitens coerced her into giving him oral sex while she cried openly, and slapped her across the face when she told Greitens she was still sleeping with her then-husband.