After months of silence and a return home to Paris as a free man, Dominique Strauss-Kahn went before the cameras to offer — for the first time — his side of the story that derailed his political ambitions. The former IMF chief said that the encounter with Guinean Nafissatou Diallo was "consensual," and he suggested that her charges of attemped rape were financially motivated. He labeled as "imaginary" the accusation by French TV reporter Tristane Banon that he once tried to rape her.
In a highly anticipated Sunday interview on France's TF1 network, Strauss-Kahn admitted to a "moral failing" in his encounter with the hotel maid. The AP reported:
Still, he acknowledged, it "was not only an inappropriate relationship, but more than that, it was an error."
Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist politician who was widely considered a top contender in next year's presidential race until the case broke, said "it was a failing, a failing vis-a-vis my wife, my children and my friends but also a failing vis-a-vis the French people, who had vested their hopes for change in me.
"I think it was a moral failing and I am not proud of it. I regret it infinitely. I have regretted it everyday for the past four months and I think I’m not done regretting it," he said at the start of the 20-minute interview. Much of the exchange came off as staged, with Strauss-Kahn appearing calm and unruffled throughout and not surprised by the questions.
Strauss-Kahn's initial contrition was peppered with anger at his accuser, a Guinean immigrant who maintained he attacked her after she came into his room at New York's Sofitel hotel to clean.
He said the New York prosecutor concluded "Nafissatou Diallo lied about everything — not only about her past, that's of no importance, but also about what happened. The (prosecutor's) report says, it's written there, that ‘she presented so many different versions of what happened that I can't believe a word.' "
Strauss-Kahn stopped short of apologizing, as some of his countrymen had expressed a desire for in surveys. This may be his first attempt at rehabilitating his political career, but the interview may not turn off the glare of publicity — or the doubts.
For more on the DSK case, see our roundup at DSK: All You Need to Know.