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Editorial: In helping Greitens' Navy quest, administration again politicizes the military

Editorial: In helping Greitens' Navy quest, administration again politicizes the military

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Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens may have resigned his office in disgrace, but since when do allegations of serious sexual and political offenses bother the Trump administration? So it’s unsurprising that Vice President Mike Pence’s office (where Greitens has connections) pressured the Navy to allow Greitens to return as a reservist, as The Kansas City Star reports.

Greitens is also trying to return to public life with the help of Fox News and other right-wing media. Hopefully, the public will show more sense than America’s vice president.

Greitens in 2016 parlayed his background as an ex-Navy SEAL and author into a successful run for Missouri governor, as a Republican. But once in office, his penchant for shady dark-money fundraising tactics led to his undoing — that, and allegations from a former mistress that Greitens bound her, struck her and threatened to blackmail her into silence with a nude picture he took of her without her permission. Greitens and his wife announced divorce proceedings four months ago.

Facing criminal charges, Greitens cut a deal by resigning in May 2018. But he has since made clear that he wants to return to political viability, even hinting at another gubernatorial run. Apparently as part of that quest, he sought reinstatement to the Navy.

The problem, according to documents obtained by the Star, was that the Navy didn’t want him back. “The sexual nature of the charges [previously leveled at Greitens] are not in line with our Navy Core Values,” one rear admiral wrote in an internal email early last year, “and the campaign finance violations not only do not inspire trust and confidence in his integrity but also represent a real risk from a security clearance perspective.”

Yet, by early March of this year, Greitens was officially welcomed back into the Navy as a reservist, complete with what was described in documents as “a red carpet physical.”

What changed? According to the documents, Pence’s office expressed “some interest” in getting Greitens reinstated, possibly to allow him to work on a “project” for the vice president’s office, “in a Navy capacity.”

Maybe an unrepentant ex-politician accused of both sexual and political crimes is the only person Pence’s office could find for whatever this “project” is. But more likely, Pence got a nudge from his former chief of staff, Nick Ayers, the high-powered political consultant who helped Greitens win in 2016.

This is yet another example of this administration’s outrageous meddling in military personnel issues, hindering the armed forces for crass political motives. Recall how President Donald Trump last year overruled military justice officials to protect another SEAL, Chief Edward Gallagher, accused of war crimes and described by his fellow soldiers as “freaking evil.”

Greitens may not be that, but the Navy’s initial assessment was right: He doesn’t belong in the military. And he certainly doesn’t belong back in political office.

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