Shortly after Missouri Senate GOP candidate Eric Greitens’ (R) ex-wife surfaced domestic abuse allegations against him in court Monday, a handful of Republicans condemned the former Missouri governor, with some demanding he drop out of the GOP Senate race.
In court records filed Monday, Sheena Greitens, the ex-wife of the Missouri Senate candidate, detailed a series of disturbing allegations against her ex-husband, including accusations of physical violence. The allegations — which she described as “unstable and coercive behavior” from the former governor that she and their children experienced — allegedly occurred toward the end of their marriage. The accusations were revealed in a sworn affidavit Sheena Greitens filed as part of an ongoing child custody dispute in Missouri state court.
Eric Greitens has denied his ex-wife’s allegations, saying in statements Monday that the claims are “completely fabricated” and a “sad attempt” to take custody away from him.
Appearing on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast hours after news of the allegations broke, Greitens maintained that the accusations were false. Greitens also suggested that if he wins the GOP primary and general election, he will not support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) speakership. He’s said this before. But this time, he also made baseless claims that McConnell is somehow among a group of “political operatives” who are trying to launch a smear campaign against him with these recent allegations.
But Greitens’ full-throated denial of his ex-wife’s claims appears to have not resonated with some Senate Republicans.
Retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters on Tuesday said that Greitens should drop out of the Senate race if the domestic abuse allegations are true. Greitens is currently a top contender in the GOP primary to replace Blunt.
“If the statements filed with the court are true he should not be a candidate,” Blunt said, according to Politico.
Senate GOP Whip John Thune (R-SD) said Monday evening he believes Greitens should drop out of the Missouri Senate race.
“I don’t know why you would want to continue the race in this case. I mean, it just seems like with that coupled with all the other scandals it’s hard to see how he could be a viable general election candidate,” Thune told reporters, according to NBC News.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the GOP leadership team who is backing Greitens’ primary challenger Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), said Greitens should drop out of the race in light of the allegations.
“I had concerns about him running after that first incident — so this doesn’t help his case,” Ernst said, according to CNN.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) also knocked Greitens after news broke of his ex-wife’s allegations. Hawley has a long history with Greitens — he was serving as the attorney general in Missouri when Greitens was under investigation for several alleged crimes, including blackmail accusations tied to an allegedly physically violent extramarital affair. Hawley was one of the first to call on the former governor to resign, which he eventually did.
Additionally, Greitens’ rivals in the Missouri GOP Senate race, Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt and top state senator Dave Schatz, also called for him to drop out.
But some in Senate GOP leadership remain tight-lipped on the matter. McConnell himself reportedly did not comment on the allegations against Greitens when pressed by reporters on Monday evening.
Asked by CNN if Greitens should drop out, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said the claims look “very ugly” to him, but stopped short of calling on Greitens to end his candidacy.
“I trust the voters, primary voters, to handle it and come up with the right answer,” Cornyn told CNN.
Similarly, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the allegations are “pretty disturbing” and that he hopes it gives former President Trump “a big pause” before deciding whether to endorse him. Scott, however, did not indicate whether he believes Greitens should drop out, but added they should find out “exactly what happened,” according to CNN.
Trump has not endorsed any candidate in the Missouri Senate GOP primary, nor has he weighed in on the allegations against Greitens.
The former president reportedly met with Greitens privately at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month after promoting an article Greitens wrote for Breitbart News last fall, calling for McConnell’s ouster as leader. Greitens has repeatedly declared his disdain for McConnell, and reportedly scored tickets into a Trump-hosted private reception after tweeting about McConnell.