Let them come and get me -- how the French president handles a crisis 

French President Macron is facing his worst crisis since taking office. And he's not calming things down.

Roxanne D'Arco
Roxanne D'Arco NewsMavens, France
Let them come and get me -- how the French president handles a crisis  - NewsMavens
Emmanual Macron, Rémi Jouan, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Is it the new favorite soap opera of the summer? No, it's even better. Last week, the famous French newspaper Le Monde dropped a bomb. A close associate of the president has been recognized in some footage taken during the traditional May 1 protest this year in Paris. The footage shows a person in police riot gear engaging in violent acts against a protestor. Problems for the president began when the figure was identified. He was not a police officer at all, but Alexandre Benalla, President Macron's well-known bodyguard.

And then the questions started: Who is he? Did the President know? What's happened since then?

The answer is: so many things.

First Benalla was suspended only 10 days for "his behaviour". Then politicians began making excuses:  Alexandre Benalla had worked for them as a security agent or as a driver but he had been fired. We have even heard the Minister of the Interior trying to explain during a special hearing that he didn't know the man, although a lot of pictures seem to show the contrary. We also have heard rumors of a link between Benalla and the Moroccan secret services. And yes, he had to call off his wedding because he was still being questioned by the police.

It's a lot to take in -- almost like a real tv show. 

But it became suddenly less funny when journalists saw a video leaked to the AFP. It was taken during a private meeting on July 24.  

Emmanuel Macron was accused of hiding behind his office during the crisis. He refused to apologize for failing to sack a close associate (until the scandal became public and an investigation opened). "If they are looking for the person responsible, it's me and me alone. Let them come and get me," he stated. 

These words shocked a lot of people, especially French journalists. In response they have been accusing him of attacking the foundational role of journalism in society. Indeed this kind of statement is quite ironic for someone who has publically tried to bring "prestige" back to the presidency. 

Details from the story:

  • In the video we can see Alexandre Benalla striking a man while wearing parts of a police uniform. Until the video became public, Benalla had only been suspended for 10 days. 
  • After the video was released, Benalla  was sacked and an investigation opened. 
  • A public hearing was organized at which the Minister of Interior said he didn't know Alexandre Benalla. Deputies were laughing during his tesitmony. 
  • A new revelation has come out every day since then. 
  • Alexandre Benalla's wedding was even cancelled because he was still heard by the police. 
  • Emmanuel Macron has done any public declaration. 
  • On July 24, Macron was at a private meeting where he refused to apologize for failing to sack a close associate until the video went public. 
  • Macron has made a statement denying some of the most spectacular rumors put forth by the media: "Alexandre Benalla never had the nuclear code. He never had a 300 m2 apartment at Alma. He was never my lover."
  • President Macron seems to prefer confrontation instead of just explaining himself. 
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