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Burdened by scandal, Missouri's Greitens dodges key questions

As a rule, once a governor faces questions about tying up a mistress, his career trajectory probably isn't headed in the right direction.
Eric Greitens Founder and CEO, The Mission Continues speaks at the Robin Hood Veterans Summit at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty for The Robin Hood Foundation)
Eric Greitens Founder and CEO, The Mission Continues speaks at the Robin Hood Veterans Summit at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on May 7, 2012 in New York, N.Y.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' (R) sex scandal has clearly put his career in jeopardy. As regular readers know, the Republican governor concedes he had an extra-marital affair, which occurred the year before he launched his campaign for statewide office, but as part of the story, Greitens is also accused of trying to blackmail his former mistress to keep their relationship secret.

Indeed, though the governor denies this part of the story, there's an audio recording of the woman in question claiming Greitens took nude photographs of her, while she was blindfolded and her hands were tied, which was followed by an alleged verbal threat. (The recording has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News.)

The governor talked to the Associated Press over the weekend -- his first media interview since the scandal broke -- and while Greitens claims there was "no blackmail" and "no threat of violence" as part of his adulterous relationship, he wouldn't say whether he had bound, blindfolded, and taken a photo of the woman.

Yesterday, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch  reported, the Missourian was similarly evasive during a press conference.

Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday sidestepped one question asked repeatedly during a rare news conference: Did he take a compromising photo of a woman with whom he had had an affair?The question came in various forms from various news outlets. After initially addressing the affair, he attempted to steer the reporters back to the state's $28.7 billion budget blueprint, the planned topic of the day.

Greitens has now repeatedly claimed there was "no blackmail" -- in other words, he's denying criminal wrongdoing -- while sidestepping more embarrassing aspects of the controversy. He said yesterday, for example, "There was no photograph for blackmail," which is obviously very different than saying, "There was no photograph."

And as a rule, once a governor faces questions about tying up a mistress, his career trajectory probably isn't headed in the right direction.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers has already called for Greitens to resign; a local prosecutor has launched an investigation into the governor's alleged conduct; and the state attorney general's office is reportedly examining the governor's office ignoring public-records law by relying on a private messaging app that deletes texts.

And in case that weren't quite enough, CNN reported late last week that the FBI "recently opened an inquiry" into the Missouri governor.

It wasn't long ago that many political insiders saw Greitens as a future presidential candidate. The better question now is whether the first-year governor will be able to finish his term.