Update 11:20 p.m. with statement from Michelle Nasser -- Rep. Jay Barnes has thrown down the gauntlet, as has the rest of the Missouri House committee investigating Gov. Eric Greitens.
The Republican committee chairman announced Friday that they’ve issued a subpoena for the governor to appear and testify under oath on June 4.
The first-term Republican is being investigated over an extramarital affair with his former hairdresser in 2015, and for his use of a charity donor list to raise campaign funds.
“There have been reports that he’s been talking to members of the House about various events,” Barnes, of Jefferson City, said, “and if he is capable of doing that, he is capable of coming to this committee and testifying under oath.”
Michelle Nasser, an attorney with Greitens’ legal team, told Barnes they don’t know yet if the governor will appear before the committee.
The Special Investigative Committee on Oversight has also issued a subpoena to the woman, identified as both K.S. and Witness 1. She’s scheduled to appear again before the committee one day later, on June 5, but it’s not known yet if that appearance will be open to the public.
“She has testified seven times, Mr. Greitens has refused to go under oath,” Barnes said. “And yet Mr. Dowd (a Greitens attorney) insists that we call Witness 1 back for an eighth time and won’t say whether his client is going to show up and testify for the very first time.”
The announcements of Greitens’ subpoena followed a rather routine meeting, which began with testimony from Brian Koberna. He’s a Madison County sheriff’s detective who also performs forensic analysis on cell phones and other electronic devices.
He analyzed Greitens’ cell phone and told the committee he was unable to determine if it had been used to take a seminude photo of the woman during her first visit to Greitens’ home in 2015.
But he added: “To be clear, just because I don’t find a photograph or don’t find an item doesn’t mean it did not exist.”
Koberna also examined the phones of the woman and her ex-husband.
The meeting went from routine to hostile about an hour into Koberna’s testimony, with the hostility not directed at him, but at Greitens’ legal team.
One of the committee’s three new members, GOP Rep. Curtis Trent of Springfield, announced he had five documents tied to the governor’s cell phone that he wanted Koberna to review and to submit as evidence. Trent said he received the documents from Grietens’ legal team.
The revelation that the defense had turned over some documents that were previously denied angered Barnes and other committee members.
“My concern is the defense counsel told us no such records could be provided to any member of the committee because of a court order… and now all of a sudden a document pops up that [Greitens’ attorney Ed Dowd said]earlier this week could not be provided and repeated that yesterday,” Barnes said.
Barnes began grilling Dowd-Bennett attorney Michelle Nasser, who was seated in the audience.
“We have subpoenas for production of documents out there, documents that we have requested for three months, Ms. Nasser, three months, and Mr. Dowd had the audacity to stand there and yell at me and say that he couldn’t provide them to any third party yesterday, and today we have a series of documents that he said he couldn't do it because of a court order.”
Nasser objected to Barnes’ questions, and for yelling the questions at her. She also requested a break to discuss the five pages of documents, but Barnes refused at first: “You can call back to your office, you can answer the question of whether you are going to consent to the handing over of all of the evidence, and not just the cherry-picked stuff that was provided to a member of this committee without knowledge of any other member of this committee, and without being shared before this hearing today.”
Nasser repeatedly replied that she was there to observe the hearing and not answer questions, “we are not consenting to anything today.”
The committee then went into closed session for roughly 30 minutes, after which Barnes apologized to Nasser for raising his voice to her and told her his vitriol was directed at Dowd.
She issued a statement late Friday evening in response to Barnes’ actions, in which she said she has never been treated “in such an unprofessional manner” throughout her career.
“Chairman Barnes’ demeaning treatment of me was completely unsolicited and deeply disrespectful,” Nasser said. “I believe the committee’s commitment to openness, courtesy, and fairness is being undermined by chairman Barnes. I have never been the subject of public beratement ever, as I was by chairman Barnes for several minutes today.”
Nasser also read a statement from Dowd after the impromptu closed session, which said in part that they believed the committee already had the documents they provided to Rep. Trent.
“As to the request for our consent to allow Mr. Koberna to turn over everything he obtained from the three phones in question, we cannot do so, but will be happy to work with the committee as to what can be turned over that has not already been turned over.”
Some committee members laughed at the conclusion of the statement, which ended with Dowd saying he would be “happy to come back to Jefferson City next week.”
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