July 31, 2021

“If I had not put Jean-François Copé at the head of the UMP, none of those who are here would be prosecuted,” says Nicolas Sarkozy

This courtroom on the second floor of the Paris judicial court, Nicolas Sarkozy knows it. He came there every day from November 30 to December 10, 2020, when he appeared in the wiretapping case, known as “Bismuth”, alongside his lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog and the former magistrate Gilbert Azibert. It was there that he learned on March 1, his sentence to three years in prison, one of which was firm for “active corruption” and “influence peddling”.. (Nicolas Sarkozy appealed against this judgment).

Does the former President of the Republic have this memory in mind when for the first time, this Tuesday, March 15, he sits among his co-defendants at the trial of the accounts case of his 2012 presidential campaign? ? Behind him and in a robe, his lawyer Thierry Herzog, whispers in his ear. Jacqueline Laffont, who was defending him at the Bismuth trial, comes to greet him and leaves the room. Fourteen long minutes of waiting later, Nicolas Sarkozy discovers the faces of the three judges of the court before which he will have to explain himself on the exceeding of the legal ceiling of his campaign expenses.

“Not everyone is Mr. Holland”

And let’s go for three hours of questioning of President Caroline Viguier. Open, courteous, the former head of state is increasingly offensive as we approach the key issues of this affair. What did the candidate Nicolas Sarkozy decide, and how far?

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The president goes back the chronology until this month of January 2012 when a campaign team is set up at the Elysee Palace.

Usually, the outgoing president is a candidate. Not everyone is Monsieur Hollande … Nicolas Sarkozy mocks. So in January 2012 the question for me is how am I going to go into the campaign.

Did you go into the details of the composition of the campaign team?

My priority is to bring my political family together. I had François Fillon as prime minister (sigh), Alain Juppé as Minister of Foreign Affairs (sigh again), and Jean-François Copé at the head of the party [UMP] with which it was common knowledge that I did not maintain a good relationship …

So, I participated. I assume my responsibilities. But I remind you that I am then President of the Republic and that the Elysée does not stop because its tenant is a candidate.

“Cope did not believe in my victory”

Nicolas Sarkozy therefore chooses his chief of staff, Prefect Guillaume Lambert, as campaign director. (He is sitting on the bench of the defendants).

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