Missouri Gov. Greitens announces he will resign from office amid scandals

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has announced Tuesday he will resign from his role of governor amid criminal and legislative investigations stemming from an extramarital affair and campaign finance questions..

Watch Greitens' full statement in the video player at the bottom of this story.

The 44-year-old Rhodes Scholar and ex-Navy SEAL made the announcement Tuesday. The resignation takes effect Friday.

"These past few months have been incredibly difficult," Greitens said Tuesday. "This ordeal has been designed to cause strain on my family."

Now, the role of governor will move to Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, who released the following statement Tuesday night:

“With Governor Greitens’ decision to resign from office, he has put the best interests of our state and all Missourians at the forefront where they belong. This is a decision that will allow our state to heal and move forward from what has been a difficult time. This is an enormous responsibility serving as our state’s next governor, and I am ready to fulfill the duties of the office with honor and integrity, and with a steadfast commitment to making our great state even greater for the people we are entrusted to serve.”

A St. Louis grand jury indicted Greitens on Feb. 22 on one felony count of invasion of privacy. The charge was dismissed during jury selection, but a special prosecutor, Jackson County's Jean Peters Baker, was considering whether to refile charges. A spokesperson for Peters Baker's office said their investigation will continue.

Prosecutors say he took a compromising photo of a woman with whom he had an affair without her consent in 2015, before his election.

The woman told a legislative committee Greitens restrained, slapped, shoved and threatened her during sexual encounters.

"It is clear for the forces that oppose us that there is no end in sight," he said Tuesday. "I cannot continue to allow those forces to cause pain to the people that I love."

In April, the local St. Louis prosecutor's office charged Greitens with another felony, alleging that he improperly used the donor list for a charity that he'd founded to raise money for his 2016 campaign.

The Missouri Legislature began meeting in special session less than two weeks ago to consider impeachment. A special House investigatory committee had subpoenaed Greitens to testify next Monday.

Greitens has denied criminal wrongdoing.

'This is not the end of our fight," he said. "I will always be a fighter for the state of Missouri."

 Story continues below video.

After Greitens' announcement, Missouri lawmakers and leaders across the state began voicing their thoughts.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner issued the following statement:

"The last several months have been difficult for all Missourians, not just those of us embroiled in these legal matters. In January, I opened an investigation in search of the truth. I believe it is essential for residents of the City of St. Louis and our state to have confidence in their leaders. I know my decision to charge Mr. Greitens in February and March with two felonies was met with both praise and criticism. As a prosecutor, my decisions must be based upon facts and evidence, regardless of the position or power of the accused. While that may have been unpopular at times, that’s my job.

"I have been in contact with the Governor’s defense team over the past several days. We have reached a fair and just resolution of the pending charges.  We will provide more information tomorrow.

"I want to thank the individuals who have cooperated with these investigations over the past few months in our search for the truth, particularly those who were willing to stand up to power regardless of how stormy some days were."

“Governor Greitens has done the right thing today," Attorney General Josh Hawley said. "I wish incoming Governor Mike Parson well, and stand ready to assist him in his transition. This Office’s work for the people of Missouri goes forward.”

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson, Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr and Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescov released the following statement after Greitens' resignation:

"We believe the Governor has put the best interest of Missourians first today by choosing to resign. The past few months have been difficult for everyone involved, including the Governor and his family. This is a serious and solemn occasion that reminds us that our state and our duty are bigger than any one person or party.

"The House stands ready to help ensure a smooth transition of power to Governor Parson. The hallmark of democracy is that our public service is temporary. Missouri has been blessed with an unbroken line of men and women in public service who have worked to make our state better, and the work of the many dedicated public servants, who work tirelessly for the people of Missouri, will continue.

"The responsibility the House undertook with its investigation is not a path any of us would have chosen, but it is one we were obligated to pursue in an effort to do what is best for our state. We want to thank the members of the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight for the serious and professional manner in which they went about their task. We also want to thank the staff for the countless hours and sacrifices they made.

"As public servants, our solemn duty is to put the best interests of the people of this great state first in every decision we make. The Governor’s decision today honors that duty and allows Missouri to move forward toward a better tomorrow."

House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty also released a statement:

“The brief and deeply troubled term of Eric Greitens is a case study for why Missouri's highest elected office is no place for beginners. Gov. Mike Parson possesses the integrity his predecessor lacked, and House Democrats will offer him whatever assistance we can as he begins the difficult task of restoring credibility to state government.”

Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said:

“The last five months have been trying times for our state. Relationships were strained, and bonds were tested. When the governor took office in January of 2017, I had very high hopes. I believed we were on the path to building a better Missouri. This is not the position I imagined we would be in nearly 16 months later. However, I do believe the governor made the right decision.

"The governor’s office is bigger than one person. Missouri is strong. Just this session, the Legislature set the framework for greater economic growth. I have full confidence that Lt. Governor Mike Parson and other leaders across the state will continue building a better Missouri, while leading with conservative values. I can assure you, no matter what happens next, Missouri is in good hands.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe released the following statement:

“The governor’s announcement marks the conclusion to a drama that has drawn on for far too long.  It is regrettable the state of Missouri is in this position, but far more regrettable would have been for this spectacle to continue to drag on.

"For all practical purposes, Missouri has been without a governor for the last five months, with the President Pro Tem and the Speaker of the House leading the state in the governor’s absence. Our founding fathers designed a system of government to ensure Missouri is more than one individual, and this will be proven true again in the coming weeks and months.”

"Corruption in state government became worse than ever under Eric Greitens," Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway said. "That corruption must be cleaned up, and our state's reputation must be restored. This can only happen if leaders put the needs of Missourians ahead of themselves."

"The governor made the best decision for his family and the state," U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said. "I look forward to Gov. Parson's leadership and will do everything I can to be helpful."

"I wish Lt. Governor Parson the best. I look forward to working with him," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said.

Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt issued a statement on the resignation:

“Now is the time for the people of Missouri to come together and work toward a better future for our state. My focus is on helping to ensure a smooth transition of power so that state government can continue to serve Missourians without interruption. To that end, my office will be actively working with partners across state agencies and departments to help facilitate the transition process.”