By Kurt Erickson
A special Missouri House panel shot back at Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday, saying it still believes a woman he had an affair with is a credible witness.
Nearly three weeks after the governor and his legal team said the committee's work was based on the testimony of someone who may have remembered her 2015 affair with Greitens "through a dream," the panel said the embattled governor and his attorneys cherry-picked the testimony to undermine her claims and bolster their defense.
"The committee does not find anything in the Circuit Attorney interview that causes it to change its statement regarding Witness 1's credibility," the panel wrote. "Greitens' claims about the content of the Circuit Attorney interview mischaracterize the actual testimony received and reviewed by this committee."
On April 6, the woman was interviewed by investigators in preparation for Greitens' May 14 trial on an invasion-of-privacy charge. The governor, who is in his second year of office, is accused of taking and transmitting a nonconsensual photo of the at least partially nude woman in March 2015, before he was elected.
The committee released a bombshell report April 11 containing separate testimony from the woman in which she said under oath that Greitens took a photo of her while she was bound, blindfolded and unclothed and threatened her to remain silent about their encounter.
The report also included allegations the future chief executive, who ran on a family values platform, had spanked, slapped and shoved the woman during a series of sexual encounters that at times left her frightened and crying.
In St. Louis Circuit Court on April 12, Greitens' attorneys argued that the woman was "not a victim" but rather "a willing participant" and asserted that depositions taken in the criminal case "completely rebut and disputes the conclusions of this House committee report."
But, in a side-by-side comparison of what she said April 6 and what she told the committee separately in a closed-door interview March 7, panel members unanimously agreed that her version of events were consistent.
In a separate statement, GOP state Rep. Jay Barnes of Jefferson City, who is the chairman of the committee, said, "Greitens and his team claimed that the video of the interview 'undermined the narrative' and 'directly contradicted allegations in the House report.' We took these claims seriously and immediately sought the video interview in question. The committee does not find anything in the Circuit Attorney interview that causes it to change its statement regarding Witness 1's credibility."
Another committee member, GOP state Rep. Don Phillips, of Kimberling City, added, "The video interview conducted by the Circuit Attorney's office only reinforces that view as it does not in any way contradict what she told the committee."
The transcript, prepared for the House committee, notes that the first 11 minutes of the interview had inaudible audio.
Attorneys for Greitens declined to comment Monday.
The woman's name never has been officially released. She has been identified only by her initials in court filings. Her attorney has repeatedly sought anonymity on her behalf.
The House wants St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison to instruct prosecutors and defense attorneys to comply with the House subpoena for the full deposition. Although the committee and St. Louis prosecutors support the full release, Greitens attorneys have balked at the idea.
Monday's four-page report serves as an addendum to the committee's April 11 report that has led to calls for the 44-year-old Republican to resign or possibly face impeachment and removal from office by state lawmakers.
The committee comprised of five Republicans and two Democrats is expected to release a second report this week that outlines Greitens alleged use of his former charity's fundraising list to raise money for his campaign for governor.
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