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Missouri Gov. Greitens says he will resign amid sex, campaign finance scandals

The first-term Republican governor was indicted in April on a felony charge of misusing a charity donor list to raise money for his 2016 campaign.
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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, once a rising star in the Republican Party, said Tuesday he is resigning after facing impeachment by state's GOP legislature following a sexual misconduct scandal and a felony charge involving possible campaign finance violations.

"The last few months have been incredibly difficult for me, for my family, for my team, for my friends and for the many, many people that I love," Greitens said at a press conference as he continued to maintain he had committed no crimes. "This ordeal has been designed to cause an incredible amount of strain on my family. ... I cannot allow those forces to continue to cause pain and difficulty to the people that I love."

He added, "I know, and people of good faith know, that I am not perfect but I haven't broken any laws or committed any offense worthy of this treatment."

The 44-year-old first-term governor, who has maintained his innocence as state lawmakers moved forward with impeachment proceedings, was charged with a felony invasion-of-privacy charge in February for taking a nude photograph of a woman without her consent, but earlier this month the trial was abruptly halted when the state withdrew the charge.

Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar and ex-Navy Seal, was also indicted in April with a felony for misusing his charity's donor list to raise money for his 2016 political campaign.

Prosecutors accused Greitens of obtaining the donor list without permission from the Mission Continues, a St. Louis-based charity that he founded, for use in his campaign. Prosecutors said Greitens directed an employee of the charity to take a list of donors despite the fact that personal use of the list was prohibited by the charity.

The Associated Press reported shortly after Greitens' announcement that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said her office has reached a "fair and just resolution" on criminal charges against Greitens now that he's stepping down. The details won't be released until Wednesday, she said.

The governor's resignation will take effect Friday at 5 p.m., he said.

Greitens publicly disclosed in January that he had an affair with his hairstylist in 2015, before his campaign for governor, ahead of a local news report detailing the allegations. Greitens and his wife called it "a deeply personal mistake" at the time.

Greitens, who had denied any criminal wrongdoing, still faced intense scrutiny from the Republican legislative leaders who have pushed for his resignation and begun impeachment proceedings against him. An impeachment vote was possible next month.

A special state House investigative committee recently released a report that detailed allegations from the woman, whose name has not been made public. She testified that Greitens restrained, slapped, grabbed, shoved and threatened her during a series of sexual encounters that at times left her crying and afraid, according to The Associated Press.

The scandal had also dragged in Missouri's Republican Senate candidate, Josh Hawley, the state's attorney general, who is trying to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill. He has repeatedly been asked about Greitens by the press, making it difficult for Hawley to get his campaign message out, and he has faced criticism for why he didn't attempt to prosecute the governor.

Hawley on Tuesday praised Greitens' decision, saying he had "done the right thing."

In announcing his resignation, Greitens said the charges against him were unjustly brought.

"It’s clear that for the forces that opposed us there's no end in sight," he said. "I will let the fairness of this process be judged by history."

He also rallied his supporters and vowed to "always be a fighter" for Missouri.

"For those who would be moved to vengeance, let us allow history and God to bring justice," he said. "This is not the end of our fight. ... So for the moment, let us walk off the battlefield with our heads held high."

Missouri's lieutenant governor will become governor.