JEFFERSON CITY — The historic special session to consider whether to impeach Gov. Eric Greitens began with little fanfare Friday evening.
Lawmakers briefly met to launch the session, then adjourned. Some of the rules for the session were released by the House of Representatives Friday night, with more to come next week.
A resolution adopted by lawmakers Friday charges the Special Investigative Committee on Oversight, which was created to investigate the governor, with recommending disciplinary action for Greitens, ranging from censure to introducing articles of impeachment.
The committee is scheduled to convene at 11 a.m. Tuesday to adopt rules and discuss evidence. According to the resolution, sessions of that committee will be open, though members will have the option to close meetings to hear from witnesses or confer with counsel. The committee will be expanded from seven to 10 House members.
The governor’s legal team will not be able to cross-examine witnesses but will be allowed to sit in on closed meetings.
Attorneys on both sides will also be able to make presentations after the committee finishes reviewing evidence and hearing testimony.
Attorneys for Greitens argued to the committee on Wednesday that cross-examination would be vital to divulging the full truth and that not allowing it would be unprecedented. Committee chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, disagreed, arguing that a precedent had been set in the impeachment of a former Missouri secretary of state.
As for senators’ role in the special session, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard said there is not much for the Senate to do, except, if the House votes for impeachment, senators would vote on the seven judges who would serve as jurists in the proceedings.
Majority floor leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, noted that with the recent history of Democratic governors in Missouri, there may be a stronger mix of Democrat-appointed judges in the pool they have to choose from.
Kehoe said it is still a little too early to do more than look at the pool of judges available, but that Richard and minority floor leader Sen. Gina Walsh have identified attorneys from both caucuses who will start compiling which judges are available and conducting initial background checks when that time comes.
Kehoe said he knew some senators would prefer to have the proceedings, if they happen, in the Senate chamber, but ultimately many of the mechanical decisions of time and place will be up to the judges.
“This is uncharted territory, and the only thing the constitution does say is it will happen in the City of Jefferson,” Kehoe said.
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