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Missouri governor declares he will remain in office despite scandal

(Reuters) – Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, charged with criminal invasion of privacy in connection with an admitted extramarital affair, declared on Wednesday that he intended to stay in office while fighting to clear his name in court.

At a news conference in Jefferson City, the Missouri capital, Greitens, 44, a Republican, said he was the victim of a “political witch hunt” stemming from a “private mistake” that had nothing to do with his job as governor.

The comments came less than an hour before a special committee of the Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives was set to release a report on its own investigation of the scandal.

Greitens, a former U.S. Navy SEAL who was elected in 2016, has been under pressure from politicians in both parties to step down since he was indicted, but the governor said he had no intention of resigning.

“I will continue to serve the people of Missouri as their governor and to work for you every day,” he said.

Greitens was indicted in February on a single felony count of invasion of privacy, accused of taking a compromising photograph of a woman without her consent, then making it accessible by computer for the purpose of preventing her from disclosing their sexual relationship.

The alleged offense occurred in March 2015, before he was elected.

Greitens has admitted to having an affair with the woman, identified in the indictment only as K.S., but has denied trying to blackmail her into covering it up or doing anything that was criminal.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Tuesday imposed a gag order on attorneys, witnesses and other parties to the criminal case.

The judge said his gag order would not preclude the parties from making statements about the general nature of the case, schedules or the substance of court rulings that he had entered into the public record.

Burlison indicated that he had no power over state legislators, who “have their jobs and their authority,” but hoped “consideration is being given to any … defendant’s rights to have a fair trial in front of an impartial jury,” according to a transcript released by the defense.

FILE PHOTO: Missouri Governor Eric Greitens appears in a police booking photo in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., February 22, 2018. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Dept./Handout via REUTERS

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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