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Case Against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens Can Proceed, Judge Rules

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens failed in his attempt to have the case against him dismissed. He appears here in a police booking photo from February, provided by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

The felony invasion of privacy case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens can continue, Circuit Judge Rex Burlison ruled in St. Louis on Thursday. Many of Greitens' fellow Republicans have urged him to resign; he has refused.

"Burlison announces he will not dismiss" the case in response to a motion from Greitens' defense team, reports St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum.

The case has embroiled Missouri politics since January, when Greitens acknowledged an extramarital affair. The allegations that arose since then have led to the possibility that Missouri's governor could face an impeachment effort from the legislature his own party controls.

As Jason Rosenbaum reported on Morning Edition on Thursday:

"The developments quickly gained steam: In February, he was indicted for photographing the woman he had an extramarital affair with without her consent. And last week, a detailed investigation by the Missouri House painted the former Navy SEAL as being sexually and physically abusive in the affair."

"While the governor admitted to the affair, he's strenuously denied the woman's characterizations of his behavior. And he's made it clear for months that he's not going to resign."

Greitens has called the case against him a "witch hunt." And this week, he filed for a temporary restraining order against Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley — another fellow Republican. That motion relates to potential new felony charges, which the attorney general says there's enough evidence to bring against the governor over his campaign practices.

On Tuesday, Hawley alleged "that Greitens took a list of donors to his military veterans charity, transferred it to his political campaign, and used it for political fundraising," as NPR's Camila Domonoske reported.

Hawley has sent that evidence to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, whose office is reviewing the information.

As Jason Rosenbaum reports from St. Louis, "Hawley is running for the Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. And observers say he may be worried that the governor's woes will hurt his chances."

It's a stark turnabout for Greitens, 44, who won the governor's office in 2016, succeeding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon after recording an upset win in the Republican primary. The victory had put him on the map as a rising star in his party, in a state that had sided with President Trump in the 2016 vote.

Within months of Greitens' win, Vice President Pence paid a visit. And late last year, President Trump visited Missouri to tout the GOP's new tax plan at a rally that both Greitens and Hawley attended alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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