Embattled Missouri governor resigns amid felony investigations

Embattled Missouri governor resigns amid felony investigations
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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) announced Tuesday that he will resign from office, avoiding the conclusion of a state House committee considering whether to pursue impeachment proceedings against him.

"For the moment, let us walk off the battlefield with our heads held high," the governor said in a brief statement at a press conference in Jefferson City.

Greitens said that his resignation is effective at the end of the day on Friday, saying there was "no end in sight" to his opponents' efforts to remove him from office.

He cited the "ordeal" of the criminal investigations he has faced, calling it "legal harassment." He decried the "endless personal attacks" against him, as state lawmakers from both parties have called for his resignation for months.

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"I know, and people of good faith know, that I am not perfect but I have not broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment," he said.

A legislative committee has been deliberating whether to bring impeachment proceedings against Greitens amid allegations that carry felony charges in Missouri.

One investigation is looking into allegations that he photographed a woman during a sexual encounter without her consent and threatened to blackmail her.

A separate investigation is looking into whether Greitens used a charity's email list to solicit campaign donations and failed to report his access to the list as a campaign contribution.

The felony invasion of privacy charge has been dropped, but St. Louis prosecutors have asked the court to appoint a special prosecutor to refile the case. Greitens was separately indicted in April for a computer-tampering charge related to the list. 

"This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family," Greitens said, echoing previous claims that the charges were politically motivated. "It's clear that for the forces that oppose us, there is no end in sight."

Greitens has consistently denied that he did anything illegal, although he has admitted to having an affair with the woman. 

Top Republicans in Missouri thanked Greitens for resigning.

"As public servants, our solemn duty is to put the best interests of the people of this great state first in every decision we make. The governor’s decision today honors that duty and allows Missouri to move forward toward a better tomorrow," state House Speaker Todd Richardson, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo — who had all called for Greitens to resign — said in a joint statement.

"The responsibility the House undertook with its investigation is not a path any of us would have chosen, but it is one we were obligated to pursue in an effort to do what is best for our state," they added, thanking the members of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight for taking on the issue.

Missouri Attorney Josh Hawley, whose office said it uncovered evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Greitens, and Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (R-Mo.) welcomed Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, who is expected to succeed him.

“Governor Greitens has done the right thing today,” Hawley said. “I wish incoming Governor Mike Parson well, and stand ready to assist him in his transition. This Office’s work for the people of Missouri goes forward.”

"The governor made the best decision for his family and the state,” Blunt said in a separate statement. “I look forward to Gov. Parson's leadership and will do everything I can to be helpful."

— Updated at 6:24 p.m.