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Missouri Gov. Greitens initiated unwanted sex acts

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The special House investigation was initiated shortly after Greitens was indicted in February on a felony invasion-of-privacy charge for taking a nonconsensual photo of the partially nude woman and transmitting it in a way that could be accessed by a computer. The woman told the committee that Greitens took the photo after manipulating her into a compromising position during an unwanted sexual encounter and that he told her “everyone will know what a little whore you are” if she told anyone about him.

Greitens, 44, has refused to directly answer media questions about whether he took the photo but he has steadfastly denied any criminal wrongdoing. He said he expects to be proven innocent during this trial, which is scheduled for May 14.

Speaking shortly before the report was released, Greitens told reporters gathered at the Capitol that he expected it to contain “lies and falsehoods” and reaffirmed his commitment to remaining in office.

“This is a political witch hunt,” Greitens said, later adding: “This is exactly like what’s happening with the witch hunts in Washington, D.C.”

Richardson called the women’s testimony “beyond disturbing” and defended the integrity of the investigation. He said: “Let me be very clear about this: This is not a witch hunt, and the committee had no political agenda.”

If the House were to impeach Greitens, the Senate then would choose seven jurists to conduct a trial on whether Greitens should be ousted. The impeachment process can occur independently of a criminal case.

Democratic House and Senate leaders immediately called on Greitens to resign or face impeachment.

According to the report, the woman testified that she met Greitens in 2013 as a customer of her hair salon. She said she had a crush on Greitens but was shocked when he ran his hand up her leg and touched her crotch without her consent during a March 2015 hair appointment. He later invited her to his St. Louis home while his wife was out of town.

After she arrived through the back door, the report said that the woman testified Greitens searched her purse and “patted her down from head-to-toe.” He then asked if she had exercised and had her change into a white T-shirt with a slit on the top and pajama pants.

“I thought, oh, this is going to be some sort of sexy workout,” the woman testified.

But once in his basement, Greitens taped her hands to pull-up rings, blindfolded her, started kissing her, ripped open the shirt and pulled down her pants, the woman testified. She didn’t give consent to be disrobed or kissed, the report said. The woman testified that she then heard a click, like of a cellphone picture, and saw a flash.

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The woman testified that Greitens told her: “Don’t even mention my name to anybody at all, because if you do, I’m going to take these pictures, and I’m going to put them everywhere I can. They are going to be everywhere, and then everyone will know what a little whore you are.”

When she remained silent, the woman said Greitens “spanked me and said, ‘Are you going to mention my name?’ And I said, I just gritted through my teeth, and I said, ‘No.’ And he’s like, ‘Good, now that’s a good girl.'”

“I was definitely fearful,” the woman testified to the legislative committee.

After telling Greitens, “I don’t want this,” the woman testified that Greitens unbound her hands. She said she started “uncontrollably crying.” She said Greitens then grabbed her in a hug and laid her down. She said he put his penis near her face and she gave him oral sex. Asked by the committee whether the oral sex was coerced, she responded: “Coerced, maybe. I felt as though that would allow me to leave.”

The woman testified she returned to Greitens’ house later that day because she had forgotten her keys. She said she confronted him about taking a photo and he responded: “You have to understand, I’m running for office, and people will get me, and I have to have some sort of thing to protect myself.” Then she said Greitens added: “I felt bad, so I erased it.”

 Democrats from a special committee investigating Missouri Gov. Eric Greiten’s affair speak at a press conference in Jefferson City, Mo., on April 11, 2018. J.B. Forbes / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

The House committee report said it doesn’t possess any physical or electronic evidence of the photo.

The woman testified that she had several additional sexual encounters with Greitens, including one in June 2015 when “he slapped me across my face” after she acknowledged having slept with her husband. She said she didn’t think Greitens was trying to hurt her, but rather “I felt like he was trying to claim me.”

In another subsequent sexual encounter, the woman testified that Greitens “out of nowhere just, like kind of smacked me and grabbed me and shoved me down on the ground, and I instantly just started bawling.”

It “actually hurt, and I know that I actually was really scared and sad when that happened,” she testified.

The woman’s account contradicts statements Greitens made previously. Asked in a January interview with The Associated Press if he had ever slapped the woman, Greitens responded: “Absolutely not.”

Greitens, a Rhodes Scholar and former Navy SEAL officer, was considered a rising GOP star. He went so far as to reserve the web address ericgreitensforpresident.com years ago.

Greitens first acknowledged having an extramarital affair on Jan. 10, when St. Louis TV station KMOV ran a story revealing that the woman’s ex-husband had released a secret audio recording of a 2015 conversation in which she told him about the photo Greitens took at his home.

Greitens’ attorneys have asserted that prosecutors have failed to produce evidence that a photo exists. Prosecutors previously acknowledged that they don’t have the photo, though they could be trying to obtain it.

On Wednesday, Greitens referenced a comment the woman made during a lengthy deposition in the criminal case when she was asked if she saw what she believed to be a phone. A court filing from Greitens’ attorneys quoted her as saying, “I haven’t talked about it because I don’t know if it’s because I’m remembering it through a dream or I — I’m not sure, but yes, I feel like I saw it after that happened.”

Greitens and his defense team have seized on the “dream” comment to attack the credibility of her testimony. But the prosecutor in the case says the defense “cherry picked bits and pieces” of her nine-hour deposition and the woman’s attorney says it referred to one particular instance concerning the photo.

Greitens’ attorneys had tried to persuade the Legislature to delay its report until after his criminal trial, arguing that it could include some information that isn’t fully accurate and could taint the jury pool.

On Wednesday, Greitens criticized the House report as “one-sided tabloid, trash gossip that was produced in a secret room.”

In addition to the legislative investigation and the criminal case, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley is investigating The Mission Continues, the veterans charity founded by Greitens, as it relates to the state’s consumer protection and charitable registration and reporting laws. That probe came after media reports that Greitens’ campaign had obtained and used a charity donor list in 2015 as it ramped up fundraising for his gubernatorial bid.

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Angry French ambassador shows true colours by reminding Biden about naval victory over UK

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BREXIT Britain’s newly forged defence deal with Australia and the US infuriated French Ambassador to America, Philippe Etienne, who took a bitter swipe at his transatlantic allies.

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China, France furious at new U.S. security alliance with Britain, Australia

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HONG KONG — America’s new security alliance with Britain and Australia was always likely to be greeted with fury by China, the unspoken target of Washington’s latest effort to reinforce its influence in the region.

And it was. But the pact also incensed France, a longtime ally that felt its Indo-Pacific interests had been torpedoed by the submarine-centered agreement.

At a news briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the pact “seriously undermined regional peace and stability, exacerbated the arms race and undermined international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.”

Zhao added that any regional alliance “should not target or harm the interests of third parties.”

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In a briefing before Wednesday evening’s announcement, a Biden administration official stressed that the pact “is not aimed at any one country.”

But the AUKUS deal comes as the U.S. steps up its efforts to counter China.

It will allow Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines for the first time, using technology that the U.S. had only previously shared with Britain. The pact also allows for greater collaboration between the three countries on cyber capabilities and artificial intelligence, as well as in other areas.

It will also make Australia the seventh country in the world to have nuclear-powered submarines, after the U.S., Britain, France, China, India and Russia. Unlike those other countries, Australia does not have nuclear weapons.

“The U.S. has only ever shared this technology with the U.K., so the fact that Australia is now joining this club indicates that the United States is prepared to take significant new steps and break with old norms to meet the China challenge,” said Sam Roggeveen, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, in a statement shared with NBC News.

Relations between Beijing and Canberra have been in a downward spiral, with the U.S. ally emerging as a key bulwark in the West’s efforts to combat China’s growing influence.

China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, has embarked on a trade war in return.

There now appears little prospect for improved ties, which the Australian government will have taken into consideration, according to Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst in defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

“I think China will probably increase the pressure on us as a result of this, but frankly we need to do this in order to ensure our security,” he said.

But it’s not just China that was irked by the deal.

France also expressed outrage after the agreement brought its own deal to build submarines for Australia, inked in 2016, to an abrupt end.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly voiced their displeasure in a joint statement.

“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region,” they said, “shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret.”

A visibly angry Le Drian later described the announcement as “a stab in the back.”

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” he said on France-Info radio.

“We built a relationship of trust with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” he added. “This is not done between allies.”

Australia signed a 2016 deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build it a new submarine fleet worth $40 billion.Naoya Masuda / Yomiuri Shimbun via AP file

Parly said Thursday that the government would try to minimize the financial impact of the canceled deal on submarine manufacturer Naval Group, which is mostly state-owned.

Asked whether France would seek compensation from Australia, she did not rule it out.

Being sidelined by the new alliance was a “big disappointment” for French trade, according to Frédéric Charillon, a political science professor at France’s Clermont Auvergne University.

“But, what is probably more worrying now is…the lack of confidence that is now growing between the Biden administration and at least some of the European alliance, including France,” he said.

Washington appears to be fueling “the impression that maybe the new administration (is) not that different from the last,” Charillon added.

In New Zealand opposition leaders questioned why Australia’s neighbor and close ally had been left out of the loop.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that her government had not been approached as part of the pact, “nor would I expect us to be.”

But she added that any nuclear-powered submarines Australia acquired would not be allowed in the country’s territorial waters, since its longstanding nuclear-free policy forbids the entry of vessels powered by nuclear energy.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that in spite of the hard feelings among both rivals and some allies, this was simply an opportunity his country couldn’t turn down.

The advantages of nuclear submarines were clear, he said: “They’re faster, they have greater power, greater stealth, more carrying capacity.”

“Australians would expect me as prime minister to ensure that we have the best possible capability to keep them safe and to be unhindered in pursuing that as best as I possibly can,” he added. “And that is what I have done.”

Jennifer Jett reported from Hong Kong, and Chantal Da Silva reported from Toronto.

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Socialist-raised Liz Truss shaping up to be 'Thatcher 2.0' as she secures Cabinet boost

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LIZ TRUSS has slowly built up a reputation as a “radical classical liberal” member of the Conservative Party, with Institute for Government chief Mark Littlewood tipping her for a “Thatcher 2.0” role within her party.

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