The remarkably patient defense attorneys for Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cannot be sure from day to day what new bit of farce will be introduced into the case being brought against their client in a St. Louis court house.
On Monday, the attorneys learned that the prosecution’s chief investigator, a man that the prosecution has compared to Inspector Clousseau, was not about to show up for his scheduled deposition. Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the lead prosecutor, allegedly could not reach him to find out why he was not coming.
Defense attorneys also learned that the investigator, William Tisaby, had contracted his own attorney, Albert Watkins, ostensibly to forestall perjury charges. Watkins did not show up Monday morning either. He did attend Monday afternoon’s session and added some unwitting comic relief.
When asked the whereabouts of his client, Tisaby, Watkins said, “He works for a private international and national security firm that does work of significance that is presently involved in a matter of national security in which Mr. Tisaby is intimately involved and working hand in hand with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Said defense attorney James Martin, “I would have to say, Judge, God help this country if that’s true.” Martin explained that Tisaby “wouldn’t be able to pass an FBI background check” given that he had previously lied to the FBI and been demoted because of it.
Watkins is the same attorney who received $100,000 in cash from some still unidentified Democratic operative. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Watkins claims that a courier dropped off the cash at his Clayton law firm in January.
Watkins had “no doubt” the cash was related to the Greitens case but he insists no instructions came with the money. It was understood, however, that the money was given to assure that the husband’s taped recordings made their way to the media and to the prosecutors. The husband, P.S., admitted to having received $15,000 as part of the deal.
The money was delivered to Watkins because P.S. was his client. The fact that Tisaby was now a client of Watkins as well led to another moment of farce in this exchange with Judge Rex Burlison:
THE COURT: All right. So, Mr. Watkins, you represent one of the endorsed witnesses in this case?
MR. WATKINS: Yes, your Honor, P.S.
THE COURT: And you’re seeking now to represent what has been determined to be the State’s team lead investigator and an integral part of the State’s team?
MR. WATKINS: Yes, your Honor.
THE COURT: And you’re saying you don’t recognize a conflict?
Burlison recognized the conflict. He disqualified Watkins from representing Tisaby. On Monday, defense attorneys filed a motion to disqualify Gardner’s office. They claim that prosecutors were aware of Tisaby’s lies and did nothing to discourage them. They also want to disqualify Gardner’s office from trying Greitens on a secondary charge, the improper use of a mailing list.
Greitens’ lawyers claimed Gardner had a “personal motivation to justify the prior charges and conduct by bringing new charges, which the defendant believes to be equally unfounded.”
“History repeats itself,” said Karl Marx, “first as tragedy, second as farce.” If so, the prosecution of Eric Greitens has already moved to the farce stage.