Mike Pence’s office pressured Navy to reinstate controversial former Missouri governor: FOIA'd documents

Mike Pence’s office pressured Navy to reinstate controversial former Missouri governor: FOIA'd documents
Vice President Mike Pence, along with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

In June 2018, Republican Eric Greitens — who had been battling criminal charges — resigned from his position as governor of Missouri. Greitens served as Navy SEAL before pursuing a career in politics, and according to the Kansas City Star, Vice President Mike Pence tried to pressure the U.S. Navy into reinstating the former Missouri governor in 2019. But Pence’s office, according to the Associated Press, has flatly denied that the vice president intervened in the matter.

Star reporters Tara Copp, Jason Hancock and Bryan Lowry explain that according to documents the publication has obtained, “Greitens had been charged with a felony in 2018 connected to allegations of violent sexual misconduct. Though the charge was ultimately dropped, the Navy wasn’t ready to welcome the former governor back at a time when the military was facing intense criticism over its response to sexual assault in its ranks. It was after the intervention of Vice President Mike Pence’s office that Greitens was allowed to return as a reservist, the documents show.”

In an e-mail dated May 24, 2019, the Star reporters note, Navy Vice Adm. Robert Burke wrote, “Since he was in the (individual ready reserve) 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 Art 120 (Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, rape and sexual assault). But for a reservist not on orders, or the IRR, we have no authority; it’s like holding a civilian accountable. How could/should that have been accounted for in the administrative move from IRR to [selected reserve)?”

Copp, Jason Hancock and Bryan Lowry report that through the Freedom of Information Act, the Star has obtained “more than 850 pages of documents” that shed light on “behind-the-scenes tussling over allowing the former Missouri governor back into the Navy” — which, they note, didn’t want him back in early 2019.

Devin O’Malley, a Pence spokesperson, denies that the vice president’s office had anything to do with Greitens’ reinstatement. Malley told AP, “Vice President Pence did not, nor did he authorize any staff to, intervene on behalf of Mr. Greitens.”

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