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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens Indicted On Felony Charges Of Invasion Of Privacy


This afternoon in Missouri, Republican Governor Eric Greitens was arrested and booked on a charge of felony invasion of privacy. He was released without having to post bail. St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann joins us now. Hey, Rachel.


KELLY: What led to this charge today?

LIPPMANN: So back on the night of the - his State of the State address in January, our local CBS affiliate here ran a story alleging that the governor had had an affair and then allegedly taken a picture of this woman with - of this woman while she was semi-nude. He was then also accused of threatening to release that photo if she ever said anything about the affair - essentially blackmail. Missouri law says that the photo taking - taking the picture alone was the act - was a misdemeanor. What pushes this to the level of a felony was the fact that he put that photo on a computer, and therefore it makes it sort of a low-level felony. We know about this incident because the ex-husband of the woman who had the affair recorded the conversation and then released to and talked to it with the media.

KELLY: Now, the woman - who we're not naming - the woman involved has not spoken publicly about this. The governor has spoken publicly about it. What's he said?

LIPPMANN: The governor, in a statement, admitted to the affair back on that January night. He and his attorneys initially denied that a photo had been taken but walked that back later. He has always strenuously denied that that blackmail allegation took place, that he said he would release the photo if the woman made the affair public. And that is not part of the indictment today. An attorney for the governor said in a statement today about the indictment, quote, "in 40 years of public and private practice I have never seen anything like this. The charges against my client, the governor, are baseless and unfounded. The governor, my client, is absolutely innocent, and we will be filing a motion to dismiss these charges."

KELLY: Now, we mentioned that the governor is out on bail. What is the next step that his lawyers are contemplating?

LIPPMANN: So he has the - has hired these private attorneys. And as they said, they'll be filing this motion to dismiss. He's always strenuously denied the blackmail, and now they're saying that these charges are completely and totally baseless. So we do know that the case has been officially filed with the court system here. And the motion to dismiss, I'm going to guess, will come shortly after.

KELLY: Now, you know, the governor is married. He is a father. He portrayed himself as a family man during the campaign. And he was widely said to have had aspirations for higher office. Do we know how this may all play out for his political future?

LIPPMANN: I think you have to think that future - you know, his future in politics is probably, with the #MeToo movement and how this is all tied into allegations of sexual assault - is probably over. There's a question now, too, of whether he'll even finish out the rest of his term. He was first elected back in 2016. You've already had Republicans and Democrats alike calling on him to be impeached because of this indictment. And he was never really well-liked among legislatures in - legislators in Jefferson City.

KELLY: All right. Rachel, thank you so much.

LIPPMANN: Thank you, Mary Louise.

KELLY: It's St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann reporting there on the news that Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has been indicted on a felony charge of invasion of privacy.

(SOUNDBITE OF EMUNE AND MUJO'S "DETROIT STREETS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lippmann returned to her native St. Louis after spending two years covering state government in Lansing, Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and followed (though not directly) in Maria Altman's footsteps in Springfield, also earning her graduate degree in public affairs reporting. She's also done reporting stints in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Rachel likes to fill her free time with good books, good friends, good food, and good baseball.