Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has been on a mission. Since his resignation from office in 2018 in anticipation of his impeachment — as he was likely facing felony charges for violent sexual misconduct and computer tampering — the ex-executive of the Show-Me State has been trying to clean up his image. Not his behavior, of course. That’s for people who are truly contrite about the things they’ve done. But his desire to rehab at least what the public thought of him led him on a journey that ended up with essentially a popularity pardon from the Vice President himself.
In 2018, a woman testified under oath that she felt as though she was forced to perform sexual favors for Mr. Greitens when he apparently tied her up and took photos of the situation. She further testified that he had threatened to release the photos online if she ever told anyone about the incident.
Greitens was a former Navy SEAL. Although the felony charges were ultimately dropped after he left the Governor’s mansion in May of 2018, Greitens did admit to having the affair with the unnamed woman; the St. Louis prosecutor dropped the charges against the woman’s wishes after determining that Greitens would serve little to no jail time.
And despite those dropped charges, the Navy wanted little to do with Greitens, especially after recent scrutiny about their position toward sexual offenders in the service.
The Kansas City Star obtained a Freedom Of Information Act release from the Navy, in fact, that said Greitens’ superiors would have charged him with crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice had he been serving in any capacity higher than Individual Ready Reserve. Vice Admiral Robert Burke, who was the Navy’s Chief of Personnel in May of 2019 — when the brass found out that Greitens intended to apply for reinstatement to the Navy as part of his image rehabilitation — expressed his frustration in an email that surfaced as part of the FOIA request:
Since he was in the IRR at the time, we had no recourse. If he were in the AC [active component], or even RC [reserve component] on active duty, we would have gone after [Article] 120 [of the UCMJ]. But for a Reservist not on orders, or the IRR, we have no authority — it’s like holding a civilian accountable.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Rear Admiral Brendan McLane, the head of Navy Recruiting Command, in January, just four days after getting word Greitens wanted back in:
I would be disinclined to grant a major misconduct waiver for anyone with an indictment such as his based on what we know now.”
But guess who DID want Eric Greitens back in the Navy: Mike Pence. He had supported and endorsed Greitens in multiple campaign ads and wanted him to come work for his office in Washington, DC — but not as a civilian. Pence wanted Greitens to be employed under the auspices of his military service.
VA Burke, however, was quickly pressured to change his position after a “By Name Request” from the Vice President, who personally pressured the Navy to reinstate Greitens. And McLane was forced to connect with the former Governor to get proceedings for his reinstatement going. Greitens was outright rejected by the SEALS unit, and Pence and Greitens knew better than to press the issue, but ultimately he was readmitted into the Navy as a Reservist.
Pence, of course, has not responded to any news outlets’ requests for comment on his intervention to get the accused sexual predator back into the military and working under his direct command.
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