The trouble comes from why Greitens is no longer governor. He resigned after being indicted twice in 2018. One charge alleged that he stole a list of donors from the nonprofit that he founded to use it without the firm’s consent for his 2016 gubernatorial campaign. The second charge was more damaging: that he had taken a nude picture of a woman with whom he was having an affair while she was bound and blindfolded and used it as blackmail to keep her from revealing the affair. In both cases, Greitens denied wrongdoing. While the second charge was dropped after prosecutors failed to find the picture Greitens allegedly took, that didn’t stop the Republican-controlled State House from instituting impeachment proceedings against him. Greitens resigned rather than face almost certain removal from office, but only after he reached a deal that resulted in prosecutors dropping the first charge against him in exchange for his resignation.
Normally this would end a politician’s career, but normal no longer seems to apply when a politician’s ego is at stake. Former New York representative Anthony Weiner (D) tried to make a comeback after a sexting scandal caused him to resign, and former New York governor Eliot Spitzer (D) also tried to return to politics after he resigned after consorting with prostitutes. Both men lost in Democratic primaries, although in Weiner’s case, it took a second sexting scandal to finally nail his political coffin shut. Greitens seems to believe that if Donald Trump could survive the revelation of his “Access Hollywood” tape and the Stormy Daniels accusations, he can survive these scandals, too.
That would be a horrible risk for Republican voters to take. My Post colleague Hugh Hewitt described why in a tense radio interview with Greitens on Wednesday. Hewitt detailed Greitens’s past and asked why he thought Missouri voters would elect him. Hewitt cited the example of 2012 GOP Senate nominee Rep. Todd Akin, who was clobbered by Democrat Claire McCaskill after he said that he opposed legal abortion for rape victims because he believed a woman’s body could not get pregnant after “a legitimate rape.” Women and moderate voters abandoned the candidate for his beliefs. “How are you not going to be Todd Akin?” Hewitt rightly asked Greitens.
If anything, Greitens could be in far worse shape than Akin ever was. Akin said something stupid and wrong. Greitens allegedly did something stupid, wrong and reprehensible. That’s more likely to outrage voters than Akin’s comment. Moreover, who’s to say the matter is entirely behind him? What if the woman in question decides to speak publicly? Greitens and his wife, Sheena Chestnut Greitens, announced last year that they were divorcing, but what if she issues a statement after the primary? Chestnut Greitens, a noted expert on national security, has affiliations with two left-leaning thinks tanks, the Brookings Institution and the Center for a New American Security, which suggests she might not be willing to stay silent for the Republican team.
And what if other details about Greitens’s past come to light? Democratic Missouri veterans have already said that Greitens backed progressive causes and supported Barack Obama in 2008. If he becomes the nominee, reporters will surely pick through his past with a fine-tooth comb. Who knows what they might unearth, given what we already know?
Greitens has tried to overcome these concerns by wrapping himself in Trump’s mantle. He’s a regular guest on Fox News and the even Trumpier Newsmax and One America News. He has also been endorsed by many in Trump’s orbit, including former Trump advisers Sebastian Gorka and Rudolph W. Giuliani. Greitens is surely angling for the embrace of the top dog himself to shield him from his damaging past.
Trump shouldn’t give him that gift, and Missouri Republicans should reject Greitens even if he does. Senate control is too important to let a shameless grandstander such as Greitens put it at risk.
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