Missouri's legislature agreed to hold a historic special session. Impeaching the governor is on the menu.

Gov. Eric Greitens.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Thursday, Missouri's Republican-led state legislature submitted signatures from more than 75 percent of lawmakers to hold a special session that will include consideration of whether to impeach Gov. Eric Greitens (R). The state legislature had never used its power to call a special session before, and no Missouri governor has ever been impeached. The petition was signed by 138 of the House's 161 members and 29 of 33 senators, House Speaker Todd Richardson (R) said. Eighty-two House members would need to vote to impeach Greitens and send him to trial before the Senate.

"This was not a decision made lightly and certainly not without great deliberation and effort," Richardson said, pledging a "fair process that will not be rushed to conclusion." The special session will begin May 18, half an hour after the regular session ends, and its first order of business will be allowing a special House committee investigating Greitens to complete its work. In April, the committee released a report suggesting Greitens had been violent and coercive with a mistress whom he allegedly photographed partially naked, and on Wednesday it released a separate report accusing Greitens of orchestrating the use of his charity's donor list for political fundraising and then lying about it. The St. Louis city prosecutor has indicted him for two separate felonies related to those cases, and his first case goes to trial May 14.

The special election petition does not specifically mention impeachment, but lawmakers made clear that's on the table. "Pursuing impeachment against a Missouri governor is history none of us wants to make, but Eric Greitens' actions have made it unavoidable," said House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty (D). "The process has monumental consequences, and the gravity of what we are commencing is not taken lightly," said Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard (R), adding that he was already reaching out to potential judges. "The Senate stands ready to do our constitutional duty if it becomes necessary."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.