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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens refuses to resign, calls investigation "political witch hunt"

Last Updated Apr 11, 2018 7:25 PM EDT

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens admitted to an extramarital affair but defiantly refused to resign before the release of an investigative report by a House investigatory committee related to an extramarital affair he engaged in before his election. According to the report, the woman testified Greitens was physically aggressive during an unwanted sexual encounter and threatened to distribute a partially nude photo of her if she spoke about it. 

The graphic report details multiple instances in which the woman said Greitens spanked, slapped, grabbed, shoved and called her derogatory names during a series of sexual encounters as he was preparing to run for office in 2015. The testimony contradicts Greitens' previous assertions that "there was no violence" and "no threat of violence" in what he has described as a consensual extramarital affair. 

The report, signed by all five Republicans and two Democrats on the committee, describes the woman's testimony as credible and notes that Greitens has so far declined to testify or provide documents to the panel. It also outlines instances where the Republican governor's public comments appear to run counter to some of her allegations. 

Greitens called the accusations against him a "political witch hunt" and called the affair a "private mistake." Greitens said he "fully expects" more false accusations to come up, but he insisted that he will be proven innocent.

"I will continue to work for the people of Missouri everyday," Greitens said.   

Greitens also challenged the validity of his accuser's story, saying, "scenes will be filled with lies that we now know may have come from a dream." 

"In 33 days this will all come to a close, because in the United States of America, you get your day in court," he said. 

The report, along with the governor's pending criminal trial on a felony indictment related to the affair and an investigation by fellow Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley into the activities of a veterans charity founded by Greitens, have created challenges and uncertainty for the former Navy SEAL officer once considered a potential presidential candidate. 

Two state Democratic lawmakers have spoken out calling for Greitens' resignation after they were briefed on the committee's report, CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV reports. Rep. Deb Lavender called the report "graphic" and said the alleged victim is credible. She said Greitens should resign in the wake of the report's release. 

Shortly after, Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty released a statement emphatically calling for Greitens to resign "for the good of the state." 

"For the good of the state, Eric Greitens must immediately resign. If he doesn't, it will be the duty of the House of Representatives to restore integrity to the executive branch of state government," Beatty said. "This duty must be conducted with careful deliberation following a thorough review of the evidence gathered to date. Once House members have had the opportunity to digest the special committee's report and accompanying documentation, it is our hope that leadership in both parties can agree on the appropriate next step."

Rep. Peter Merideth, a Democrat from St. Louis tweeted, "I've read enough. Resign now or be impeached."

A grand jury in February indicted Greitens on one felony count of invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting a compromising photo. The case goes to trial May 14.  

Scott Simpson, an attorney for the woman, said this week that Greitens has told his client on multiple occasions that he photographed her without her consent and threatened to release the image if she told anyone about their relationship.

Greitens' supporters have called the criminal case a political witch hunt.

In March, a special House legislative committee launched its own investigation, a potential precursor to impeachment proceedings. The House said in a news release that the report will be released Wednesday. Greitens' lawyers have repeatedly asked to delay the report, publicizing a series of critical letters and court documents to reporters as the expected release date approached in an effort to portray it as inaccurate and potentially damaging to the governor's right to a fair trial.