St. Louis prosecutors abruptly dismissed charges against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday afternoon.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a statement that the move came after Judge Rex Burlison agreed to a request by lawyers for Greitens to call Gardner herself as a witness. For weeks, defense lawyers have accused Gardner of improperly allowing a private investigator working for her team to commit perjury.
Gardner said the judge’s decision put her in an “impossible position” in which she would be “subject to cross-examination” by members of her own office.
Greitens had been charged with allegedly blackmailing a woman with whom he was having an affair by taking a semi-naked picture of her and threatening to release it.
In a string of tweets, the governor celebrated his “victory” in the case. He apologized to his family and the people of Missouri, saying that the “humbling” experience had taught him “wisdom.”
Today, the prosecutor dropped the false charges against me.
This was a great victory and a long time coming. I've said from the beginning that I am innocent.
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) May 14, 2018
He faces another charge, also brought by Gardner’s office, of felony computer tampering. He is accused of illegally obtaining a donor list from a veterans charity he founded and using it to fundraise for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign.
It’s unclear what will happen with the computer tampering case, but Greitens’ legal team said that it should also be turned over to a special prosecutor because of Gardner’s “clear conflict” of interest.
A Missouri House special committee is investigating all of the allegations against Greitens, and is expected to make a report laying out their recommendations, which could include the governor’s impeachment.
The full statement from Gardner’s office is below:
Since January, Governor Greitens and his defense team have taken a scorched-earth legal and media strategy and relentlessly attacked the intentions, character and integrity of every person involved in investigating the Governor’s behavior including Missouri House Committee members, the Attorney General, the Circuit Attorney and her team, his victim, her family and those who have called for his resignation.
On February 22, 2018, a Grand Jury indicted Governor Greitens on Felony Invasion of Privacy. The Circuit Attorney has done everything in her power to remain focused on the facts and the truth of this matter. The Circuit Attorney and her team are ready, willing and able to go to trial this week on behalf of the people of the state of Missouri and Mr. Greitens’ victim.
Last week, Governor Greitens made a motion to include the Circuit Attorney as a defense witness. A defendant who wishes to call a prosecutor as a witness must demonstrate a compelling and legitimate reason to do so. Governor Greitens has produced no compelling reason to include the Circuit Attorney as a witness for any purpose. The defense team knows that the tactic of endorsing the Circuit Attorney as a witness is part of their ongoing effort to distract people from the defendant’s actions that brought about both the felony Invasion of Privacy and Computer Tampering charges against him.
22nd Circuit Judge Rex Burlison made an unpreceded decision by granting a request by Governor Greitens’ defense team to endorse the Circuit Attorney as a witness for the defense. The court’s order places the Circuit Attorney in the impossible position of being a witness, subject to cross-examination within the offer of proof by her own subordinates.
While the court has other remedies, such as calling the private attorney of K.S. as a witness, it has chosen not to do so. When the court and the defense team put the state in the impossible position of choosing between her professional obligations and the pursuit of justice, the Circuit Attorney will always choose the pursuit of justice. The court’s order leaves the Circuit Attorney no adequate means of proceeding with this trial. Therefore, the court has left the Circuit Attorney with no other legal option than to dismiss and refile this matter.
The Circuit Attorney and her team will research the best step forward for this case in light of the court’s ruling. The Circuit Attorney will be make a decision to either pursue a special prosecutor or make an appointment of one of her assistants to proceed.