WASHINGTON • White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that allegations of physical and sexual assault against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens were “very concerning.”
“It is certainly something that is very concerning and something that we are taking very seriously,” Sanders said at the daily White House briefing.
Greitens has faced a cascade of controversy surrounding his extramarital affair, punctuated this week by the release of a report by a Republican-led House committee which contains accusations of sexual and physical assault by the governor against his hairdresser.
Peripheral scandals include his robust use of untraceable political donations, use of a smartphone app which automatically deletes text messages, and potentially illegal use of resources from his former charity, The Mission Continues.
Calls for Greitens to resign reached a high on Thursday as legislators and other political figures were still digesting the contents of the House committee’s 24-page report.
Greitens was defiant minutes before its release, predicting that the report’s contents were full of lies and asserting the effort was a “witch hunt.” Greitens has so far chosen not to give his version of events to House investigators.
The White House’s comments come after Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, who has long opposed Greitens, called the situation in Missouri an “emergency” this week.
The term-limited lawmaker sent Trump a letter this week, with the signatures of two other Republicans attached — Sens. Doug Libla of Poplar Bluff and Gary Romine of Farmington — calling on Trump to call on Greitens to resign.
Schaaf said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday that Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, has it “wired into his psyche — he has it trained into him — never to surrender, never to give up the ground that he has taken, never to walk away from a battle. I believe that he has been trained to take a lot of pain — more than what the average person could take.
“I would predict that the governor will not resign,” he said.
Schaaf said he believed his refusal to do so would cost the state “in many ways, not the least of which is a lot of money.” He said the House committee is going to waste more time investigating the governor. The cost of a special session to consider impeachment against Greitens could cost more than $24,000 per day.
“President Trump, I’m speaking to you,” Schaaf said on the Senate floor Thursday. “We have an emergency here in Missouri.
“I believe that there is one person who could get this soldier to stand down. He’s trained as a Navy SEAL. He’s trained not to walk away from battle. But he is also trained to listen to his Commander-in-Chief. And I believe, that if you give him the order, if you tell him to stand down, Mr. President, I believe that he will. It’s worth a shot.”
Sanders said Trump had not yet responded to the letter. “I don’t have an official response at this time,” she said.