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Greitens Vows To Stay In Office, Fight "Political" Prosecution From St. Louis Circuit Atty

Greitens, in a statement, said he made a mistake but "did not commit a crime." He accused Gardner, a Democrat who was also elected in November 2016, of playing politics.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday for felony invasion of privacy in connection with an extramarital affair he reportedly had before he entered the governor's race in 2015.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney says the indictment follows her office's investigation that started in January, shortly after news of the affair was broadcast the night of Greitens' State of the State Address, when he announced his plan for sweeping tax reform in Missouri.

In the television story that aired that night in St. Louis, the ex-husband of a woman he claims had an affair with Greitens also alleged that Greitens took a compromising photo of the woman when they were together and said he would use it against her.

The story featured an audio recording of the ex-husband and the woman that he made without her knowledge while they were still married and he found out about the affair. The woman allegedly involved in the affair has refused to make any comment on the affair, and has asked to be left alone.

Several Democrats in the Missouri legislature immediately called for Greitens' resignation, and later a handful of Republicans politically tied to businesses and lobbyists who largely profited from a program well documented to have funneled millions of dollars in taxpayer money directly to them.

Greitens and his appointees had recently managed to successfully block taxpayer money from continuing to be used in the program before the story came out.

Following the announcement of the indictment Thursday, Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed and other members of the legislature called for Greitens' impeachment.

House Republican leaders announced they were forming a group of lawmakers to investigate the charges "and answer the question as to whether or not the governor can lead our state while a felony case moves forward." Dowd said the governor welcomes the review.

The joint statement from House Speaker Todd Richardson, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and Majority Leader Rob Vescovo did not specifically mention impeachment, a process that must begin in the House with an investigation.

Greitens, in a statement, said he made a mistake but "did not commit a crime." He accused Gardner, a Democrat who was also elected in November 2016, of playing politics.

"With today's disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken," Greitens said. "I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points."

Gardner's spokeswoman, Susan Ryan, responded: "Despite the Governor's personal attacks, the Circuit Attorney believes the courtroom is the appropriate place to argue the facts, not the media."

Greitens' attorney, in a separate statement, called the indictment "baseless and unfounded." Attorney Edward L. Dowd Jr. filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that any relationship with the woman was consensual.

Greitens was taken into custody in St. Louis and released on his own recognizance. He is due in court for his first hearing on March 16, before Circuit Judge Rex Burlison. He could face up to a four-year sentence if convicted.

The statute of limitations for invasion of privacy in Missouri is three years, which means it was due to expire in less than a month.

Ryan, asked if additional charges could be filed, said the matter is still under investigation. Several lawmakers were questioned last week by investigators from Gardner's office.

Greitens, the father of two young boys, came into office as a political outsider, a brash Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL officer who was wounded in Iraq, emerging as the winner in a crowded and expensive GOP primary.

A former boxer and martial arts expert, he has embraced the role of maverick. He responded to a Democratic attack ad in the fall of 2016 with one of his own in which he fired more than 100 rounds from a machine gun as an announcer declared he'd bring out "the big guns" to fight Democratic policies championed by then-President Barack Obama.

Greitens surprised many experts by defeating Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster in the November 2016 election. Some saw him as a rising Republican star with potential presidential aspirations.

Full statement from Missouri Governor Eric Greitens:

As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was Governor. I did not commit a crime. With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points. I look forward to the legal remedies to reverse this action. This will not for a moment deter me from doing the important work of the great people of Missouri.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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