When Yr Editrix suggested we cover this story about how Mike Pence helped Eric Greitens get back into the Navy, I briefly misplaced the name, and thought it was awfully sweet of Pence to tell the Navy to reinstate the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he was shitcanned for wanting his COVID-19 infected crew evacuated. Way to go, Mike Pence!

Oh, right: different guy.

As those of you who've had their coffee may recall, several decades ago, in 2019, Eric Greitens, the former Republican governor of Missouri who resigned to avoid facing felony charges, wanted to get back into the US Navy. He'd touted his status as a former Navy SEAL during his run for governor, and — perhaps a bit like a sobbing Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman — he had nowhere else to go. Except the Navy wanted nothing to do with him, because one reason Greitens had left office involved his alleged violent sexual assault of a woman with whom he'd been having an affair. He'd also been charged with a felony for illegally using his private charity's mailing list for campaign fundraising; that, not the alleged assault, was what ultimately led to his resignation.

Lucky for Greitens, he had friends in high places, and with some nudging from inside the Trump administration, Greitens got a nice Navy Reserve job, presumably one where he could be closely supervised. That much we already knew.

As the Kansas City Star reports, it wasn't merely "the administration" that helped Greitens get back into the Navy, it was Vice President Mike Pence, who made it clear the Navy should set aside its concerns about letting a guy who was no gentleman be an officer again. Sure, maybe the military has been fighting to clean up its decades-long problem with sexual assault, but a friend of the Veep needed a job, so the Navy gave him one. Heck, at least Greitens wasn't convicted of war crimes, so he's golden.


While the basic outlines of Greitens's return to the Navy were reported by the Washington Post last year, based on leaked Navy emails, the Star went and got more than 850 pages of documents through the Freedom of Information Act, revealing Pence's involvement and giving a fuller picture of how the Navy went from initially recommending Greitens not be allowed to rejoin to providing him a "red carpet" return to the Navy Reserve.

And like every other part of this administration's crime-mob management style, it demonstrates that decisions in the Trump era are driven by personal connections and doing favors for friends, the experts be damned.

A May 24, 2019, email from Vice Admiral Robert Burke, who at the time was the Navy's chief of personnel, lays out the problems with letting Greitens serve again. Like the minor detail that had Greitens been serving at the time of the alleged 2018 sexual assault, he'd surely have been court-martialed, although civilian authorities had dropped the single felony charge in his case.

In an earlier email from January 2019, headed "Possible High Vis Recruit Candidate," Burke advised the Navy's recruiting command that even a brief look at Wikipedia's article on Greitens raised red flags, because of the sexual assault allegations. Burke said that any decision to reinstate Greitens should be considered from the viewpoint of "what we think is the right thing for the Navy."

In a January 11 email, the commander of the recruiting command, Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, said that letting Greitens return to the Navy would require a waiver, even though the charges were dropped, because the Navy doesn't just smile and nod at felony indictments.

I would be disinclined to grant a major misconduct waiver for anyone with an indictment such as his based on what we know now. [...]

I have granted a few felony waivers so far, but these were way down on the scale of offense — taking a relative's car out for a joy ride, getting in a fight at school (in some places those are felonies) etc. The sexual nature of the charges are not in line with our Navy Core Values, and the campaign finance violations not only do not inspire trust and confidence in his integrity but also represent a real risk from a security clearance perspective.

McLane added that, as far as Greitens's request to be a SEAL again, dude was too old and too unlikely to ever qualify for promotion, and besides, "Informally, the SEALs told us they won't take him."

Ah, but that assessment changed by late January, when Burke wrote that he'd been informed there was "Also some interest from VPOTUS office, possible BNR [by name request] coming in." Another email from McLane summarized a phone call he'd had with Greitens, in which the former governor "told us that VPOTUS had asked him to come work for him on a project and suggested he do it in a Navy capacity."

And golly, it really does matter who you know, because every part of the government is now corrupt as fuck:

Greitens and Pence have political ties through Nick Ayers, a veteran GOP strategist that ran Greitens' 2016 gubernatorial campaign and went on to serve as the vice president's chief of staff for two years.

Ayers was also connected to dark money nonprofits that helped bankroll Greitens' successful run for governor[.]

What a fun club!

After that, things started moving fairly quickly. In February, McLane's executive assistant, whose name was redacted in the FOIA'd emails, repeated that Pence wanted Greitens to work for him, as a military officer, and that "The whole chain of command from SECDEF on down are supportive of him coming in so we're just trying to make this as painless and quick as possible."

A later email from the Navy command in St. Louis where Greitens would report for duty said he'd "receive a red carpet physical and "Once he has cleared medical I will work with CDR Long to put a bow on this."

Greitens never actually ended up in a White House job, however, and nobody really seems to know what he's doing as a reservist. Sorting boxes, maybe. Outside the Navy, he's been showing up on Fox News a lot, and he might be planning a return to politics, now that he considers himself completely exonerated. The Star reports that in March of this year, to help out with the COVID-19 pandemic, Greitens

organized an effort to deliver protective masks to the Kansas City Police Department and public safety agencies around the state.

Some agencies later reported that the masks Greitens provided were defective.

Frankly, it's a wonder he doesn't already have a job in the Trump campaign, or possibly working with Pence's top-notch Rona task force.

[Kansas City Star / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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