France’s ‘Benalla Affair’ – The Scandal Macron Can’t Shake | 2/24/2018 | Staff
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PARIS (Reuters) – Emmanuel Macron has spent much of the past four months battling to contain the threat from France’s “yellow vest” revolt. But another lingering problem may cast a longer shadow over his presidency: the Benalla Affair.

Named for Alexandre Benalla, a 27-year-old former Elysee security chief and Macron bodyguard, it has its roots in May last year when Benalla was caught on video beating a May Day protester. Nine months on, the affair continues to produce a drip-feed of leaks, parliamentary hearings and police inquiries that have kept it nipping at the heels of the presidency.

Week - Questions - Senate - Links - Benalla

This week, questions in the Senate explored links between Benalla and a private security contract with a Russian billionaire. Benalla’s measured answers prompted France’s justice minister to warn that if he was found to have lied under oath, he could face up to five years in prison.

While there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Macron, parliament’s probing of who knew what when, and why it wasn’t dealt with sooner, led Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday to reiterate his commitment to transparency.

Justice - Work - Acts - Sanctions - Problem

“Justice will do its work and if it is found that illegal acts were committed, sanctions will be handed down, I have no problem with that,” he told parliament. “My office will respond to all questions with complete transparency and with respect to the independence of the judiciary, I guarantee it.”

While Macron’s poll ratings were beginning to fall even before the Benalla case broke, the sense of the Elysee holding information back accelerated his slump, with his popularity falling to 21 percent. In a survey for BFM TV, 73 percent said the Benalla Affair had damaged Macron’s image.

Ministers - Concerns - Impact - Term - Reuters

Senior ministers have voiced concerns about the impact on his five-year term, with one telling Reuters the Elysee needed to get on top of the “nonsense”,...
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