French police have obtained a court warrant and raided the Presidential Elysee Palace, amid claims President Emmanuel Macron personally covered up criminal activity by a mysterious friend and “security advisor” who has been granted an extraordinary series of irregular and lucrative perks by Macron.
President Macron was forced to issue an unprecedented public denial that he is in a homosexual relationship with Alexandre Benalla, a Moroccan national, as the “security advisor” was placed under formal investigation and revelations emerged proving the 26-year-old has been granted:
- a $150,000-a-year salary and a free Paris apartment on the Branly quay, close to where former President Mitterrand once housed his mistress and illegitimate daughter at the state’s expense
- a government car fitted with flashing police sirens, despite not being a police officer, to help him clear the capital’s busy roads at his leisure
- a Glock pistol and 2,000 rounds of ammunition, despite objections by French officials
- a police helmet, armband, and two-way radio (despite not being a police officer) which he used while assaulting protestors
Emmanuel Macron, a former Rothschild banker, has made many eyebrow raising claims during his rapid rise to the top of French politics, but few compare to his announcement this week that, to paraphrase another famous political denial, he did not have sex with that man.
Daily Mail reports: The French President used a crisis meeting with MPs to vigorously deny any liaison with the suddenly notorious Alexandre Benalla, a son of Moroccan immigrants who, until last Friday, was his personal security guard.
‘Alexandre Benalla has never had the nuclear codes!’ he declared, presumably trying to be witty. ‘Benalla has never been my lover!’
Macron’s extraordinary comment, in response to internet rumours, was reported yesterday as he tried, but failed, to bluster through a growing crisis over his remarkably close relationship with the mysterious 26-year-old.
The scandal, now transfixing France, was triggered by shocking video footage that shows Benalla dressing up as a police officer (which he is not) in order to assault a man and woman on the streets of Paris.
It was filmed during May Day protests almost three months ago. But despite being instantly reported to the President’s office, the incident was quickly hushed up, seemingly against French law.
Incriminating CCTV footage was then concealed — again in dubious circumstances — which conveniently allowed Benalla to remain employed in Macron’s inner circle.
It wasn’t until mobile phone film footage of the attack finally emerged, eight days ago, that he was sacked. By then, the affair had seen Macron’s once-lofty approval ratings dip to just 39 per cent — roughly half their level after his election last May — with opponents using this appalling attempt at a cover-up to further fuel the image of Macron as a monarchical ‘President of the Rich’ out of touch with ordinary people and prone, in the words of Paris’s police chief, to ‘toxic cronyism’.
Serious questions were being asked, meanwhile, about the exact nature of the 40-year-old President’s relationship with the young man.
Though virtually unknown to the public, it swiftly emerged that Benalla had, over the past 18 months, become a key figure in the married President’s public and private life.
His background was certainly unusual: raised in a gritty suburb of Evreux in Normandy, he became an activist for the Left-wing Socialist Party as a teenager, eventually becoming friendly with its security director Eric Plumer, who helped him get employment with party officials, including former President Francois Hollande.
Around this time, it seems, Benalla first met Macron.
He worked for the party for several years, but was fired in 2012, after fleeing the scene of a car accident while driving for then industry minister Arnaud Montebourg.
Benalla then spent several years doing security work back in Morocco. But when his old chum Macron, a former banker turned politician, decided to create a new political party, En Marche!, and run for the presidency in 2017, Benalla swiftly returned to Paris to help.
The duo soon became inseparable. They skied, cycled and attended tennis matches together. They were also on sufficiently close terms for the aide to have been given an all-access pass to the Assemblee Nationale and a key to Macron’s private residence in Le Touquet.
After his boss’s election victory, the young aide was given numerous perks, including a huge salary and a grace-and-favour Paris apartment on the Branly quay, close to where President Mitterrand once housed his mistress and illegitimate daughter at the state’s expense.
There was also a government car fitted with flashing sirens to help him clear the capital’s notoriously clogged roads.
On the political front, meanwhile, photos of last year’s presidential campaign showed Benalla to be a constant, somewhat shadowy, presence at Macron’s side.
At various points, he was also accused of manhandling journalists who asked awkward questions at campaign rallies, particularly those who asked about Macron’s marriage to Brigitte Auziere, the drama teacher 25 years his senior whom he met and fell in love with as a 15-year-old schoolboy.
Their unconventional relationship attracted even more comments thanks to rumours that paparazzi had taken compromising pictures of Macron with lantern-jawed Mathieu Gallet, the 41-year-old former chairman of Radio France, in a forest.
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