Judge says felony trial against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens can go forward

A St. Louis judge denied Gov. Eric Greitens’ motion to dismiss the case.

April 19, 2018, 12:29 PM

A St. Louis judge denied Gov. Eric Greitens’ motion to dismiss an invasion of privacy case, meaning the May 14 felony trial will go forward against the embattled Missouri Republican.

Adding to his legal troubles, Greitens could learn on Friday if he will face additional criminal charges after he allegedly improperly obtained a donor list for political fundraising during his run for governor.

The controversy around Greitens, once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, has consumed Missouri politics, including the state’s highly competitive Senate race.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and her GOP opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley, have called on Greitens to resign from office. The Republican leaders in both chambers of the State House have also called on him to step down.

Greitens’ legal team alleged that St. Louis County Attorney Kim Gardner withheld evidence and asked for dismissal, which the judge rejected in his ruling on Thursday.

The governor faces felony charges for invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a partially or fully nude photo and "subsequently transmitted the image contained in the photograph in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer."

Greitens said he is innocent.

"A court of law and a jury of my peers will let every person in Missouri know the truth and prove my innocence," Greitens said in a statement last week.

On Tuesday, Greitens tweeted that he would not be resigning the governorship.

Adding to his woes, Gardner, the St. Louis attorney, is weighing another prosecution against him.

Hawley announced Tuesday that his office may have found evidence of a felony by Greitens in an investigation involving a veterans charity founded by the governor.

The attorney general said his office found evidence Greitens obtained an electronic donor list without permission from The Mission Continues charity he founded and used that list for political fundraising as he was preparing to run for the governorship.

Greitens started the organization in 2007 but left it in 2014, before he ran for governor.

Gardner has the jurisdiction in the case and will make the decision on whether or not to prosecute. The statute of limitations for that donor case is set to expire Sunday, which is why the prosecutor is expected to announce a decision some time on Friday.

The governor denied the allegations. Computer tampering is a felony under Missouri law.

On Monday, Greitens filed a request for a temporary restraining order in a Missouri circuit court against Hawley to keep his office from investigating the charity.

There has been no ruling yet in that motion.

The governor’s attorney had called on Hawley to recuse his office from investigating the charity because the attorney general had called on Greitens to resign.

“It’s a vicious motion,” Hawley said of the request on Tuesday when asked about it. “We’re ready to go to court and defend the actions of this office at any time.”

In addition to the felony trial, which was sparked by the revelation that the governor had an extramarital affair with his former hair dresser, the governor is fighting for his political life.

Greitens has admitted to the affair and said it was consensual.

But a Missouri State House committee released a bombshell investigative report detailing an alleged nonconsensual sexual encounter with the woman.

Greitens said he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”

That bipartisan investigative committee – comprised of five Republicans and two Democrats – is expected to release a second report next week focused on Greitens' ties to his charity.

Statehouse officials have also said they could hold a special session after the regular legislative session ends in May to focus on the impeachment of the governor.

ABC News' Alex Perez and John Verhovek contributed to this report.