“Am I the inventor of all this? »

François Bayrou, the president of MoDem, arrives at the Paris criminal court, November 7, 2023.

The president of the 11e correctional chamber had planned a full day to hear François Bayrou, Tuesday November 7, on the ninth day of the trial of the MoDem parliamentary istants. It wasn’t enough. Suspended shortly before 9 p.m., after seven hours of interrogationthe hearing was resumed the next day for two more hours devoted to listening to the former minister.

The head of MoDem, prosecuted for “complicity in embezzlement of public funds”, is gambling his political future on this trial. Equipped with notes that he almost never consults, graphics that he has projected in the room and even a small laser pointer to better indicate certain points on the projections, he led a performance that was more like a presentation , or even “alone on stage”, than the simple response to the court’s questions.

“There has never been this type of system”

The former teacher began by laying out a sort of plan, in the form of a summary of the accusations and debates of recent weeks: first, “did parliamentary istants work for MEPs” who paid them or for the party? Afterwards, “was there an organization that people were forced into” ? Other point : “Am I the inventor of all this? “. And finally ” the cellphone ” of the operation, namely the flagging finances of the MoDem.

The problem thus posed, he can unfold his argument point by point, following the president’s questions. Were MEPs’ local parliamentary istants based at party headquarters? “It was natural that we propose [le siège] as a working tool for MEPs », ures Mr. Bayrou, who says he is behind this idea, intended to allow them to work in groups. And to make the headquarters profitable, which, he recalls, the MoDem owns, a sign of its good management, which in fact, he congratulates himself, “the only party to have no debt”.

The transitions from full-time to part-time of employees, while they are at the same time hired part-time by an MEP? “In a party, there are extremely busy moments and calmer moments (…) working time decreases when the quantity of work required decreases. » And if we find MoDem employees who move from one MEP to another, it is above all for reasons of loyalty and practicality, according to him. Thus, regarding a press officer who was once paid as an istant to MEP Robert Rochefort: “She’s a good press officer, Robert said to me “can’t we share her”? It was very smart of him: the journalists know her, he had invitations to the media. »

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