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Missouri lawmakers plead for Greitens to testify as they consider impeachment

Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in News & Features

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The chairman of the Missouri House committee investigating Eric Greitens begged the Republican governor to testify before the panel as it considers his impeachment.

But attorneys for the often secretive governor said Wednesday there is no guarantee that will happen.

"That's going to be an issue for the governor and his personal attorney," said Ross Garber, an impeachment expert who is representing the Office of the Governor.

Garber's comments came after the panel spent more than two hours hearing from him and another Greitens office attorney, Edward Greim. They called for a transparent process by the House to determine whether the embattled chief executive should be ousted from office -- one in which Greitens' attorneys should be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.

The committee has heard from a number of witnesses in closed session, without the participation of Greitens' attorneys. But Greitens so far has declined the committee's invitations to testify under oath.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, told the attorneys he'd get down on his knees and say "please, please, please" if it would result in Greitens coming before the committee.

"If the governor refuses to testify, and I hope that's not the case, are you going to accuse the committee of being unfair?" Barnes asked the duo, who are being paid a combined $660 an hour in taxpayer funds to represent the office.

The committee, which was formed in February after Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy in connection with a 2015 extramarital affair, has released two reports, including one on the affair. The felony charge connected with the affair was dropped Monday by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

The second report includes allegations that Greitens operated a shadow campaign before forming a campaign committee in February 2015. Missouri law requires formation of a campaign once the candidate spends more than $500.

With the first criminal charge now dismissed and the trial not going forward, Greitens was back in the Capitol Wednesday. Some lawmakers stopped by his office for breakfast and then headed to the hearing.

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