French president bizarrely jokes fired bodyguard was not his ‘lover’
French President Emmanuel Macron has addressed MPs over the scandal involving his bodyguard who was filmed physically assaulting protesters.
Speaking to his party about Alexandre Benalla, who was filmed beating May Day demonstrators, Macron made reference to several rumours surrounding his former aide.
“Alexandre Benalla has never had the nuclear codes. Alexandre Benalla has never lived in a 300 square metre flat,” he said.
“Alexandre Benalla has never earned €10,000, neither has Alexandre Benalla ever been my lover.”
“Alexandre Benalla is someone who was with us during the [presidential] campaign, with lots of courage and engagement,” he said. “I do not forget that engagement and the service he gave me.”
He added the incident was a “disappointment and a betrayal.”
Macron’s comments to MPs refer to several fake news stories regarding his relationship with Benalla, who was his chief of security during his 2017 presidential campaign.
Benalla, a former presidential aide and bodyguard, has been charged with gang violence for allegedly assaulting a demonstrator at a May Day rally on May 1.
The incident, published by French newspaper Le Monde, shows Benalla impersonating a police office and hitting a man on the Place de la Contrescarpe in Paris before leaving.
The Elysee Palace, the official resident of the president, kept the assault quiet for more than two months despite knowing about the incident the following day.
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“I am who I am, I have never had anything to hide,” he told a meeting of supporters in Paris in February 2017.
“I hear people saying that I have a secret life or something. It’s not nice for Brigitte (his wife) and because I share all my days and nights with her, she asks me how do I manage it,” he said.
“If over dinners in the city, if on forwarded emails, you’re told that I have a double life with Mathieu Gallet or anyone else – then it’s my hologram that suddenly escaped, but it can’t be me,” he joked.