Lawyer says he turned in hours of 'Fifty Shades of Greitens' audio to law enforcement
Posted January 16, 2018 3:43 p.m. EST
(CNN) — A Missouri attorney says he turned over to law enforcement hours of privately recorded tapes concerning Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, as the governor faces an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and blackmail.
Al Watkins, the lawyer representing a man who claims Greitens threatened the man's ex-wife with blackmail during an extramarital affair, told CNN in a phone interview Monday night that his client was in possession of hours of previously undisclosed audio. Watkins says the recording is perhaps as long as five hours -- and in it, the ex-wife describes sexual interactions she had with Greitens.
CNN has not verified the existence of these additional, previously undisclosed recordings. And it is not clear if the additional tapes -- if they exist -- would further implicate the governor in any wrongdoing beyond the already disclosed affair.
Greitens has vehemently rejected that he blackmailed the woman with whom he had an extramarital affair before becoming governor.
Watkins told CNN on Monday that he gave the entirety of the recordings to the circuit attorney for the city of St. Louis and the FBI. Watkins declined to share any part of the additional recording with CNN, saying that is not his client's wish.
The St. Louis circuit attorney, Kimberly Gardner, announced Thursday that she is launching an investigation into Greitens' conduct. "This is an open investigation, so we're unable to discuss any details," a spokesperson for Gardner told CNN on Tuesday when asked about the recordings.
The FBI also would not comment on this story and, citing longstanding policy, said it would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
The disclosure comes days after Missouri TV station KMOV first aired audio recordings, in which a woman -- alleged to be the ex-wife of Watkins' client -- is describing sexually explicit interactions she had with Greitens.
"He used some sort of tape, I don't know what it was, and taped my hands to these rings and then put a blindfold on me," she says in one part of the recording, adding that Greitens told her that "'you're never going to mention my name,' otherwise there will be pictures of me (the woman) everywhere."
In the recorded conversation that KMOV initially aired, which was later independently obtained and reviewed by CNN, the woman also says Greitens apologized to her afterwards and told her he had deleted the picture.
"He took a picture of my wife naked as blackmail. There is no worse person," the ex-husband told KMOV.
Watkins told CNN on Monday that the contents of the additional recordings were sexually graphic, private conversations between his client and his ex-wife, and it is similar to what was released by KMOV last week.
"'Fifty Shades of Greitens' -- that's not a terribly inappropriate moniker," Watkins said, a reference to the novel and movie "Fifty Shades of Grey." The term "Fifty Shades of Greitens" has spread rapidly in Missouri's political circles and on social media since the Greitens story first broke last week.
Pressed on the contents of the recordings, Watkins would only note that there was some repetition.
"There are only so many combinations of appendages and orifices," he said.
Respective lawyers representing Greitens and the woman alleged to be the person in the recording did not immediately respond to CNN's requests for comment.
Greitens acknowledged last week that he had an extramarital affair before becoming governor, but vehemently denied threatening anyone with blackmail. Through his lawyer, Greitens explicitly denied ever taking a photo of the woman or ever threatening to blackmail her.
"The claim that this nearly three-year-old story has generated or should generate law enforcement interest is completely false. There was no blackmail and that claim is false," Greitens' lawyer, James Bennett, said last week. "This personal matter has been addressed by the Governor and Mrs. Greitens privately years ago when it happened. The outrageous claims of improper conduct regarding these almost three-year-ago events are false."
Greitens' lawyer also told CNN that the governor never reached a settlement with the woman in question and that there were no nondisclosure agreements involved. Asked whether the governor has been previously accused of misconduct by anyone else, the lawyer responded: "No."
Watkins said his client recorded conversations with his ex-wife in part at the "suggestion of a marriage counselor." The couple listened to the recordings of their talks together, sometimes with a marriage counselor, Watkins said, in various attempts to save their marriage. The two eventually divorced.
CNN is not naming the woman or her ex-husband. The woman has not publicly spoken since the story broke last week. In a sole statement, her lawyer said "she is extremely distraught" and wants privacy.