Former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn admitted to encounters with both Nafissatou Diallo and Tristane Banon in his first interview since being cleared of rape charges in New York, though he denied attacking either woman. Once considered the forerunner in upcoming French presidential elections, the politician and economist will be withdrawing from public life to “reflect” on his conduct.
Claire Chazal, a friend of Strauss-Kahn’s wife, interviewed the 62-year-old for TF1 network news. Regretful, yet defensive, Strauss-Kahn attempted to build up his tarnished public image through the soft questions. Three months after Diallo accused him of raping her when she came to clean his suite at the Sofitel Hotel in New York, Strauss-Kahn was cleared of charges. The Guinean maid proved an unreliable witness, though her accusation did prompt Banon to come forward about her assault eight years ago.
Strauss-Kahn explained that his seven-minute encounter with Diallo was “worse than a weakness, I think it was a moral failing, and I am not proud of it.” He insists that "what happened involved neither violence nor constraint: no criminal act." Strauss-Kahn refused to go into more detail, and Chazal did not push him. As for Banon’s accusations, "the version that has been reported is imaginary, slanderous," he claimed.
Humiliated by the police allowing him to be photographed in handcuffs, a practice illegal in his native France, Strauss-Kahn blamed the US justice system for tarnishing his public image. Strauss-Kahn is also currently in the midst of a civil case with Diallo and will pursue a defamation case against Banon.
Diallo's French lawyer scoffed at the interview, calling it "a public relations exercise, without any spontaneity, neither in the questions nor the replies—scripted down to each gesture." Similarly dissatisfied with the lack of detail, viewers took to Twitter to air their grievances.