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Special committee investigating Greitens’ indictment holds brief first meeting

Tim Bommel | Missouri House Communications
At left, Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, tells media members to expect closed-door meetings and to respect the privacy of witnesses called to testify.

The first meeting of the Missouri House committee investigating the indictment of Gov. Eric Greitens lasted just over two minutes, the bulk of which saw the head of the committee telling the media what he expects from them.

Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said to expect most, if not all, of the proceedings to take place behind closed doors.

“As a committee that wants to go through a fact-finding process, having that completely open would destroy the very purpose of the committee,” he said. “We also have, I believe, a responsibility to protect the identity and the privacy of witnesses, and we will do our best to make sure that happens.”

Barnes then said neither he nor any members of the committee are going to publicly discuss anything they do until their official report is issued.

“At the conclusion of this committee, we will have a public report and records of our proceedings, but until that time you are not going to get any comments from me, or members of this committee, or hints from members of this committee,” he said. “You are wasting your time trying, and it wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved in this process.”

Committee members then voted to close their next meeting to the public, during which they’ll begin taking testimony from witnesses. That meeting is taking place Wednesday at the Jefferson City police station, three blocks from the capitol. Barnes did not say why the committee was meeting at the police station, which has several private entrances.

The Special Investigative Committee on Oversight has until April 9 to conduct its investigation, and its report will either recommend impeachment, censure, or no action against Greitens. He’s accused of taking a semi-nude photo of his then-mistress without her permission in 2015.

Greitens and state Republican party officials call the indictment a political witch hunt by a Democratic prosecutor.

His trial is set to begin May 14 in St. Louis Circuit Court.

Follow Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.