A felony trial was set to begin this week against Missouri governor Eric Greitens, after Greitens allegedly took partially naked pictures of a woman without her consent. But today, the St. Louis circuit attorney prosecuting the case abruptly dropped the charges against Greitens, after the judge presiding over the case allowed the governor’s legal team to call her as a witness.
St. Louis circuit attorney Kimberly Gardner asked the court, which allowed Gardner to be called as a witness, to refile the charges against Greitens. According to the Kansas City Star, Gardner’s office released a statement that accused Greitens of using a “a scorched-earth legal and media strategy” to attack “the intentions, character and integrity of every person involved in investigating the Governor’s behavior.”
“A defendant who wishes to call a prosecutor as a witness must demonstrate a compelling and legitimate reason to do so,” Gardner’s office reportedly wrote. “Governor Greitens has produced no compelling reason to include the Circuit Attorney as a witness for any purpose.”
A member of Greitens’ legal team told the Star that Judge Rex Burlison’s decision to let Gardner to be called as a witness was based on Gardner potentially having knowledge that a private investigator committed perjury in the case. “She made herself a witness to the perjury that her investigator created throughout this case and his misconduct,” lawyer Scott Rosenblaum told the Star. “She was the only witness.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jean Paul Bradshaw II, a former U.S. attorney under George H.W. Bush, told the Star.
Greitens was indicted and arrested in February on the charge of felony invasion of privacy, which carried a maximum charge of four years in prison. The woman later told an investigative committee led by Missouri Republicans that Greitens assaulted her and coerced her to have sex with him over the course of an affair. In a report, the committee said said it found the woman to be a “credible witness.”
“Today the prosecutor has dropped the false charges against me,” Greitens reportedly said after leaving the courthouse. “It is a great victory and it was a long time coming. This experience has been humbling and I have emerged from it a changed man.”
Greitens shouldn’t celebrate too soon, however. There’s still the possibility that charges could be refiled against him, and Greitens was charged with another felony last month in an unrelated case when Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley, a fellow Republican, accused him of using his charity’s donor list to fundraise for his campaign for governor.
At the very least, he could soon be be out of a job: Missouri’s legislature is set to begin meeting this week in a special session in order to consider Greitens’ impeachment. Both of the Republican leaders of Missouri’s legislature, House speaker Todd Richardson and Senate president pro tem Ron Richard, have called for Greitens to resign.