Nicolas Sarkozy is set to face trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling after his last appeal was rejected by France’s highest court, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Sarkozy will likely have to appear in court in the coming months, sources close to the case told AFP on June 19, a day after the country’s Court of Cassation – which rules on questions of law – ruled that a trial was justified for Sarkozy as well as his lawyer Thierry Herzog and a former judge, Gilbert Azibert.
The influence-peddling case centres on conversations between Herzog and Azibert that were tapped by investigators looking into claims that Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.
They suspect Sarkozy and his lawyer were seeking information on developments in the case, with Sarkozy offering Azibert a plum job in Monaco in exchange.
The inquiry also revealed that Sarkozy and Herzog often communicated via cellphones obtained under false identities – with Sarkozy using the name Paul Bismuth.
He was cleared over the Bettencourt allegations in 2013, and has argued that Azibert never got the Monaco job, meaning he should not have to face trial.
But investigators believe the deal fell through because Sarkozy and his lawyer learned their phones were being tapped.
FRANCE 24’s Political Editor Marc Perelman said the latest events hadpushed the former French leader “the closest he’s ever been to [facing] trial”.
Perelman said that if Sarkozy is convicted on all charges, he risks a “prison sentence of up to 10 years. So this is a very, very serious case.”
In 2014, Sarkozy became the first former French president to be taken into police custody during a preliminary stage of the inquiry.
Sarkozy is not the first ex-president to be prosecuted – his predecessor Jacques Chirac was given a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for embezzlement and misuse of public funds during his time as mayor of Paris. But if the charges against Sarkozy go ahead, it would be the first time a former French president stands trial for actions taken during his presidency.
Sarkozy has been dogged by legal investigations since failing in his 2012 re-election bid.
Last month a top court rejected an appeal to avoid another trial, involving charges of illicit financing for the 2012 campaign.
Prosecutors claim Sarkozy spent nearly €43 million ($48 million) on his lavish re-election bid – almost double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros – using fake invoices.
Sarkozy has denounced the charges, saying he was unaware of the fraud by executives at the public relations firm Bygmalion, who are also among a total of 13 people likely to face trial.
Trump’s racism is ‘disqualifying’ for him to remain as president: former White House lawyer
Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained on MSNBC on Thursday why he viewed President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four women of color in Congress as disqualifying.
Anchor Brian Williams read a quote from Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.
"Half of the country is appalled but not really sure how to combat him; the other half is cheering, or at least averting its gaze. This is what a political civil war looks like, with words, for now, as weapons," Glasser wrote.
Lawrence O’Donnell reports on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump
Anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump during Thursday evening's "The Last Word" on MSNBC.
"The House of Representatives conducted a symbolic vote on a hastily written impeachment resolution by Democratic Congressman Al Green in reaction to the president’s tweeted comments that the House of Representatives voted to condemn as racist," O'Donnell reported. "The impeachment resolution had nothing to do with the [Robert] Mueller investigation and referred only to the president being unfit for office because of the language that he has used recently about members of Congress and immigrants and asylum seekers."
Video proves how far the Trump’s GOP has gone from the era of Ronald Reagan and HW Bush
The immigration policies of Donald Trump’s presidency would have no room for his GOP predecessors Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush—who both embraced work visas, family unification, easy border crossings and a better relationship with Mexico.
That counterpoint can be seen in a very short video clip from the 1980 presidential election where Reagan and Bush—who became Reagan’s vice president for two terms before winning the presidency in 1988—were asked about immigration at a campaign debate in Texas. Their responses show just how far to the right the Republican Party’s current leader, President Trump, and voters who have not left the GOP to become self-described political independents, have moved on immigration.