Amid scandal, Missouri governor quietly tries to stop the bleeding

Embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was not seen or heard from Thursday following his shock admission of an extrama...

Posted: Jan 12, 2018 6:01 PM
Updated: Jan 12, 2018 6:01 PM

Embattled Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was not seen or heard from Thursday following his shock admission of an extramarital affair, as allegations of blackmail -- which he has vehemently denied -- and other misconduct continued to swirl.

Behind the scenes, however, Greitens and his wife worked feverishly to stanch the bleeding and save his political career.

Greitens and his wife are working feverishly to stanch the bleeding and save his political career

The question now facing the governor is whether Republican lawmakers will forgive him, too

Their efforts came as St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner announced a formal investigation into the matter, potentially extending the life of the controversy.

"The governor is very confident he will be cleared in any investigation," Greitens' lawyer, James Bennett, said. Privately, Greitens sought to assure the political community of the same.

The governor convened a conference call Thursday with donors, and Eric and Sheena Greitens later spent the afternoon dialing Senate and then House lawmakers, reiterating their public statements and their resolve to move forward. CNN was informed of the calls by multiple lawmakers and other GOP sources.

State Sen. Gary Romine, one Republican who has publicly called for an investigation into Greitens, told CNN that when the governor called him on Thursday, he went as far as to vow that no other allegations would come to light.

Greitens wanted to "make sure that I heard from him personally that those allegations are false," Romine said. "He reaffirmed that they are false, and there will be nothing else coming out in the future -- no additional stories."

While Romine said that "all people are innocent until proven guilty" and that he is eager for the investigation to commence, he also suggested that his patience is not limitless.

"At some point, if there's not a way to squash this or get it off the radar and out of the system, obviously at some point, it's going to be important for him to consider resignation," he said.

State Sen. Doug Libla, another Republican who lobbied for an investigation into the governor, told CNN that Greitens called him Thursday and that the two men had a "short conversation."

"I told him I was looking forward to the investigation and look at the evidence and see at that time how the case should move forward," Libla said, but declined to detail what Greitens said in response.

A state House Republican, who did not wish to be named publicly, received a call from the governor and his wife on the phone together. The governor apologized for his affair, the Republican said, but also denied any misconduct beyond that - instead blaming those allegations on "liberal media and Democrats trying to destroy him." The lawmaker pushed back, expressing disappointment at the governor's excuse.

"There were other things I wanted to ask him or say, but couldn't do it with (Sheena) on the line," the House Republican added. "It was incredibly awkward."

But their united front to some lawmakers was consistent with the public response by Eric and Sheena Greitens, who acknowledged the affair in their initial statement as "a deeply personal mistake" by the governor.

"Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately," they said in a joint statement released Wednesday. "While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God's mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger."

The question now facing the governor is whether Republican lawmakers will forgive him, too. It is not simply a cut-and-dry partisan matter, with many state lawmakers of Greitens' own party nursing frustrations over his aggressive governing style - which has often involved the statehouse as his political punching bag. A pro-Greitens group, A New Missouri, has also run ads targeting specific Republican lawmakers.

One of those Republicans, State Sen. Rob Schaaf, said he was "not going to defend (Greitens) if he's done the things alleged."

"If it's true," Schaaf said, "he ought to do the right thing."

In the Missouri House, Republicans were feeling "the full gamut of emotion," said a statehouse source. "Some want to dig in, (Greitens) has a few defenders. There are people who are ready to see him go today. And everything in between."

Any discussion by lawmakers of the governor's future will likely be on pause until Tuesday, when the legislature will resume its work in Jefferson City. Leaders decided to cut short Thursday's session as portions of the state braced for hazardous icy conditions.

Meanwhile, Greitens remained hunkered down, hoping his own squall would pass - although some Missouri Republicans doubted it would.

"I don't see how he can weather this political storm," Schaaf said.

Terre Haute
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 52°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 52°
Rockville
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 46°
Casey
Broken Clouds
49° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Brazil
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Marshall
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Decreasing clouds to sunshine and cool
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Truck hits house in Greene County

Image

Fifth person facing charges in a local murder investigation

Image

Police are looking for Putnamville inmate

Image

Death investigation in Knox County

Image

NORTH DAVIESS SECTIONAL

Image

NORTH KNOX SECTIONAL

Image

LINTON SECTIONAL

Image

WASHINGTON SECTIONAL

Image

VIN LIN SECTIONAL

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 368740

Reported Deaths: 9688
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1714375392
DuPage22100605
Lake20157508
Will17862426
Kane16211346
Winnebago9857179
St. Clair7814217
Madison7021154
McHenry6049120
Champaign594528
Unassigned4765270
Peoria443368
McLean404134
Rock Island388990
Sangamon374563
Kankakee331379
Macon283251
Kendall259528
Tazewell255953
LaSalle232063
DeKalb225142
Coles186438
Williamson183259
Boone179025
Adams176716
Clinton170926
Vermilion165310
Jackson151126
Whiteside132125
Randolph123815
Knox123116
Ogle11477
Effingham11394
Marion97617
Grundy9367
Franklin9308
Monroe90128
Stephenson9007
Jefferson89446
Bureau88117
Morgan86824
Henry8317
Christian80329
Macoupin77110
Union75125
McDonough72017
Lee6691
Fayette66622
Crawford6456
Shelby63812
Douglas6168
Livingston60810
Montgomery59515
Woodford58014
Logan5684
Saline5399
Warren4878
Bond4849
Iroquois47519
Fulton4731
Wayne47312
Jo Daviess4727
Jersey46721
Cass45911
Perry42116
Moultrie3965
Carroll3849
Johnson3400
Richland33016
Lawrence3248
Pike3234
Clay30213
Clark29811
Hancock2984
Mason2981
Washington2971
Greene28115
Cumberland2706
Jasper26010
White2594
De Witt2515
Mercer2446
Piatt2340
Pulaski2331
Wabash2185
Ford18711
Menard1731
Edgar1518
Marshall1483
Massac1472
Henderson1210
Alexander1171
Hamilton1142
Gallatin1062
Brown1050
Edwards1050
Scott1020
Putnam880
Schuyler881
Stark832
Calhoun670
Hardin530
Pope411
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 157713

Reported Deaths: 4092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25392789
Lake13805355
St. Joseph9277163
Elkhart8890135
Allen8278230
Hamilton6215113
Vanderburgh588261
Tippecanoe375915
Hendricks3302133
Monroe326638
Porter322049
Johnson3151129
Delaware297074
Clark296762
Vigo264840
Madison240595
LaPorte226658
Cass225522
Warrick195265
Kosciusko187826
Floyd180167
Howard164066
Bartholomew143358
Marshall140026
Dubois139626
Wayne132130
Henry128430
Grant127839
Boone124550
Hancock119944
Noble117434
Jackson114416
Dearborn98028
Morgan94840
Lawrence90837
Daviess89334
Gibson88612
Clinton86716
Shelby83531
LaGrange81015
Knox77410
Harrison77324
Putnam73716
Posey7236
DeKalb72011
Fayette69018
Steuben6338
Miami6305
Jasper6175
White59215
Montgomery59022
Greene55337
Scott52413
Decatur50739
Adams5027
Whitley4636
Clay4537
Ripley4538
Sullivan44414
Wells43511
Wabash4219
Starke4157
Orange40925
Huntington4015
Spencer3956
Washington3783
Franklin37625
Jennings36913
Fulton3653
Randolph3659
Jefferson3435
Pike33518
Carroll32913
Perry32614
Jay3116
Fountain3073
Tipton27823
Vermillion2531
Parke2374
Newton23011
Blackford2193
Rush2184
Owen2071
Martin2000
Crawford1591
Pulaski1562
Brown1433
Ohio1327
Benton1120
Union1110
Switzerland960
Warren841
Unassigned0234