JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The work of the Missouri House committee tasked with investigating Gov. Eric Greitens is far from finished, it seems.
In a press conference held Wednesday evening, just an hour after releasing the committee report, House Speaker Todd Richardson said that the committee would expand its investigation before making any recommendations about whether to pursue the impeachment of the embattled Republican governor.
“To that end, the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight voted to continue its work to gather additional information that comes to light and also to expand their mission to provide members a recommendation of any and all appropriate disciplinary action of the governor,” Richardson said.
Just hours before the House press conference, Gov. Greitens made a statement, saying that the report to be issued was “full of lies.” Richardson disagreed with that sentiment.
“This is not a witch hunt, and the committee had no political agenda,” he said. “The committee’s task, and its only task, was to conduct the most thorough and timely investigation possible.”
He noted that they gave Greitens the opportunity to testify, and that offer still stands.
Richardson told reporters that the power and duty given to the legislature in these events is one of the most serious constitutional powers given to the General Assembly, and must be used responsibly.
“We will not take that responsibility lightly,” he said. “We will not act rashly, but we will not shrink from it.”
He said that the committee had told him that they would not be able to finish all of their work before the end of the legislative session, and as such, leadership will begin the process of calling a legislative special session, which could lead to impeachment proceedings.
To call a special session, the legislature would need a vote of three fourths of each chamber to call themselves back in. From there, if the intent is to impeach Greitens, articles of impeachment would need to be introduced and voted out of the House committee before heading to the House floor, where it would need 82 votes in the House to move to the Senate. From there, the Senate would be required to select a panel of seven judges to try the case, and if five of the judges agree, then Greitens would be removed.
Following the release of the report, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said that the House was “within its rights” to proceed with impeachment.
“The House Investigative Committee’s Report contains shocking, substantial, and corroborated evidence of wrongdoing by Governor Greitens,” Hawley said in a statement. “The conduct the Report details is certainly impeachable, in my judgment, and the House is well within its rights to proceed on that front. But the people of Missouri should not be put through that ordeal. Governor Greitens should resign immediately.”
And with the committee extending its investigation, it could mean that more is still coming in terms of other allegations of misconduct by the embattled Republican governor. But as for what else the House committee might be looking into, whether it deals with the Governor’s use of the Confide app or the illegal obtaining and usage of The Mission Continues donor list, Richardson offered no insight.
“The report released today represents the committee’s best effort to get a fair accounting of the testimony involved in that circumstance,” he said. “Beyond that, I’m not going to comment on anything that the committee is looking into beyond that.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.