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An Interview With the Man Who Knows DSK Better Than Anyone

Katya Wachtel, Business Insider
IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Yesterday afternoon at 4 o'clock, we dialed Paris.

We spoke for an hour with the person that every journalist tried to contact when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York: his biographer.

Michel Taubmann had, incidentally, released a book about Strauss-Kahn earlier this year.

Of course, with DSK's arrest, Taubmann felt a biography of the man must include this latest, shocking chapter.

The updated version was released yesterday in France.

But it's already time for Taubmann to head back to the printers: late last night, after our interview, and while France was sleeping, news broke that the case against Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse, with prosecutors having found serious holes in the accuser's story.

While there is evidence of sexual activity, Strauss-Kahn's accuser has repeatedly lied to prosecutors, according to the report in the New York Times.

Here's our interview with Michel Taubmann, which offers a deeper look into the man who might be about to make the greatest political comeback in recent history.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: The Charmer

BI: How long have you known Dominique Strauss-Kahn?

Like everyone, I have known DSK for a long time. I have met him several times, but I wasn’t close to him. I have never been his friend. I know other French politicians better than I know him.

When I first started to write about him, it wasn’t an authorized biography. His staff was not confident with me; I never asked for permission.

But by the end of the investigation, I met him twice and his wife three times. And I had several conversations with him by phone.

BI: Is he a private person? Is he generally a private man in terms of the press, media...

No, he is very open. He is a very charming man, not only with women. He’s very charming with everybody.

You know, when he was younger, when he was the President of the Commission of Economic Affairs in the French parliament, more than 20 years ago. He was a young man, and the French finance minister—Pierre Beregovoy—was a socialist, like him, but he was an older man. He was 65.

But when Strauss Kahn entered the minister's office, the center of gravity in the room changed. Everybody was drawn to Strauss-Kahn.

He was very attractive to women. He’s very smart, very bright. He speaks fluently in English, German, Spanish and Arabic. It's very rare to see a politician who is so bright. He was a graduate of HEC, the best business school. He was a graduate of SciencPo, the best political school. He is a graduate of law...

BI: That’s why it’s so difficult to comprehend the situation in which he now finds himself.

During my investigation I have met several women who knew him very, very well. His wife, Anne Sinclair, a very famous journalist... His former wife. And I asked the question—what about his relations with women?

The fact is, he’s a famous seducer. Everyone I meet, every politician and journalist, knew that he was a great seducer. So was Francois Mitterand. So was Chirac. So is Sarkozy. It’s not a problem.

But no-one could imagine that Strauss Kahn could be a rapist. Nobody could imagine that.

And I’m not convinced that he is guilty. I think the story we heard from the police doesn’t sound very credible. First, they said he was trying to escape. Now we know from multiple sources he was not escaping, and that his flight had been reserved for a long time. He goes to a restaurant, he has lunch with his daughter. He calls the hotel. That’s not the attitude of a man who wants to escape.

I don’t know what happened. Maybe something happened with the maid inside the bedroom at the Sofitel. But I’m not convinced he is a rapist.

I know that the American justice system is very different to our justice system. We don’t see politicians in handcuffs. In France, we were shocked. People were shocked, it was the first time we had seen a great French politician in that situation. » Keep Reading

This story originally appeared on Business Insider:

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