Two attorneys representing the governor’s office who spoke before a special committee Wednesday wouldn’t say if Governor Greitens will testify at possible impeachment proceedings against him.
The special House committee is investigating Greitens over alleged activities that led to criminal charges against him. Ed Greim of the Kansas City-based Graves Garrett law firm and Washington D.C. based attorney Ross Garber initially took “issue with the line of questioning they were getting from committee members.
Greim had submitted a proposal for rules to be used in hearings on impeachment Both attorneys became frustrated when they were peppered with inquiries instead about their pay and their contact with attorneys representing Greitens’ campaign and political non-profit groups.
Greim is being paid $340 an hour while Garber, who noted he is charging half his usual rate, is making $320 an hour.
The attorneys seemed surprised when the committee’s chairman, Representative Jay Barnes of Jefferson City, insisted they be sworn in under oath to testify.
Garber, who has represented three other governors who’ve been threatened with impeachment, was annoyed with continued questioning from committee members about subjects unrelated to the rules he came to discuss.
“The notion of being brought here to talk about one thing, and peppered with questions about another, I will tell you, is unprecedented in my experience in any jurisdiction,” said Garber.
Rep. Barnes and ranking Democratic committee member Gina Mitten said the questioning was relevant in that both attorneys in their function representing the governor’s office were being paid with state money.
Committee chairman Barnes sparred with the attorneys over several of their proposals, specifically their request for subpoena power and the right to cross-examine witnesses during impeachment hearings.
Barnes and Greim also engaged in a debate on whether due process protections apply to committee hearings on impeachment.
Barnes contended that it isn’t necessarily required because there’s no criminal penalty for impeachment, only removal from office. Greim countered that the penalty is not relevant. He said if the accusation is criminal, then due process is appropriate.
Barnes seemed to take it personally when Greim suggested that without due process a committee considering impeachment could fast-track proceedings without seeking the truth.
“This committee, from the start, has been out to get the truth,” said Barnes. “And we want to hear from every witness who has any knowledge of fact. We want to hear from Governor Greitens. We are begging to hear from Governor Greitens. And it’s really hard to listen to you say that about this process, knowing that Mr. Greitens has refused multiple pleadings for him to come and testify before us.”
Garber admitted that he hasn’t been able to convince any of the three state Houses he’s dealt with concerning impeachment that due process is a right in such cases.
The three other governors Garber assisted during such proceedings were Robert Bentley of Alabama, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and John Rowland of Connecticut.
The two sides ultimately agreed that they share a common interest in having a fair process moving forward.
Garber noted afterward to reporters in the other states where he’s taken part in proceedings, the House established rules under which committees considering impeachment must follow. He said he expected the same course of events to take place in the Missouri and added that nothing has been determined yet.
The special session on impeachment will last for a maximum of 30 days. The attorneys representing the governor’s office said they could possibly try to subpoena any of the witnesses who had already given testimony to the special House committee behind closed doors, including Greitens former mistress.
In the felony case against him that was dropped Monday, Greitens is accused of was accused of taking and transmitting a non-consensual photo of a woman who was undressed, bound and blindfolded.
The woman has repeatedly sought to keep her anonymity. Her identity has thus far been withheld. She likely would have been called to testify in public if Greitens trial had taken place, however.
The House special committee has also collected information about a second felony case involving Greitens. He’s charged with felony computer tampering for allegedly obtaining and transferring a donor list from his former charity without permission for campaign purposes.
A trial date has not been set for that charge but the special House committee has indicated that the case would be included in possible impeachment proceedings.