Friday, June 1, 2012 |
Within three days in 2011, the illustrious career of IMF director and French presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn came crashing down in scandal. A year later, American journalist Edward Jay Epstein has completed 10 months of research on the case that arguably changed the course of politics in France. In his new book Three Days in May: Sex, Surveillance and DSK, Epstein argues that a conspiracy to tarnish Strauss-Kahn's career developed when the right opportunity presented itself.
While staying at the Sofitel New York Hotel in the spring of 2011, Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexual assault by hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo. All charges were eventually dropped due to Diallo's credibility, as her story of the events changed a number of times.
Epstein said he became interested in the case when he learned Strauss-Kahn's cellphone had gone missing earlier that day. "I knew a person at Blackberry who could trace a missing phone and so I decided why don't I try and find the phone," he told The Sunday Edition guest host Ellen Mann. "When I tried that the whole story unravelled."
What Epstein discovered was that Strauss-Kahn was being monitored while visiting both Washington and New York, but "being under surveillance is not the same thing as being set up." Epstein says it's not unreasonable to believe a man of such importance would be closely followed. "After all, he's destined to be the candidate of the Socialist Party and he's leading in all the polls as the next president of France." Strauss-Kahn was set to announce his candidacy in the following month. "They were trying to get something on him," Epstein contends. Who they are is still unclear to the author, although he does have some guesses.
What was certain was there were a number of electronic clues for Epstein to follow. "I suddenly realized we had entered a new age. Maybe after 9/11, maybe in the last five years, where every step we take is recorded somewhere, either on our credit card, our cellphone, an electronic swipe record, an E-ZPass or mainly surveillance cameras."
Throughout his book, Epstein points to different surveillance footage as evidence of a conspiracy. Some examples include security guards caught on camera doing "a victory dance," the fact that Diallo entered Strauss-Kahn's room without cleaning supplies twice within a matter of minutes, and Sofitel Hotel's connection to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
For his part, Strauss-Kahn maintains that a sexual liaison did occur that day but that it was consensual. While he was already known for his past sexual escapades, French society does not give such actions the same attention they might get in the U.S. or Canada. "Sex is not a disqualifier in the French electoral system. One could go back to Mitterrand, Sarkozy, and they all had their extra marital affairs," said Epstein.
Regardless of what happened in the hotel suite, Epstein argues that what happened next was contrived. "I do believe that there was an after-the-fact conspiracy, and that was a conspiracy that after he had his encounter with the maid, there were people who decided to use that event to destroy his career."