Benalla stands accused of using violence against a protester, while Crase, a reservist officer of the Gendarmerie, has similarly been sanctioned for acts of violence.
According to the leaks obtained by Mediapart, Benalla claimed that Emmanuel Macron sent him a message saying he would “beat” the investigation, casting a new light on this dark affair, as well as the support the former bodyguard enjoyed from France’s leader.
After months of investigation, the investigative news site Mediapart on January 31, revealed audio clips of a conversation dated July 26 between Alexandre Benalla and Vincent Crase, a former employee of Macron’s party, the LREM.
Four days earlier, the two men had been indicted for violence on the sidelines of May Day protests in Paris. The audio files were revealed by Mediapart.
In one of the recordings, the former bodyguard sounds confident, boasting about support from the “president”, “Madam”, Brigitte Macron, and “Ismael” [Emelien, a communications advisor to the head of the State on media].
The ex-bodyguard then reads out an SMS that Emmanuel Macron sent him: “Crazy thing is, the boss, last night he sends me this message, saying to me, ‘You’re going to beat them, you’re stronger than they are, that’s why I had you near me,” he tells Vincent Crase who had asked if they had the support of the president.
“Oh, he does more than support us […] He’s like a madman… And he said it just like that, he said, he told me: ‘You’re going to beat them. You’re much stronger than they are.’ It’s huge,” Alexandre Benalla continues confidently.
Questioned by Mediapart , the spokesperson of the Elysee denied the existence of this SMS.
These recordings are particularly embarrassing for the presidency because they coincide with doubts cast on the two men’s intent to conceal information during an investigation.
Alexandre Benalla’s vault had conveniently disappeared from his home during police searches on July 20. Vincent Crase in turn showed that he has things to hide from the investigators who were preparing to search the headquarters of the LREM.
“I would try to go tonight, but the problem is that there are cops outside …” Crase says in another audio extract. Crase had been assigned to the service that controls the entrances of the Elysée before he was charged.
Crase allegedly had contact with a Russian oligarch, Iskander Makhmudov, described by Mediapart as “suspected by several European magistrates of having acquaintances with one of the worst Muscovite criminal groups “.
Alexandre Benalla was still working at the Elysée at the time, but both he and Vincent Crase, however, had declared the opposite before the Senate commission of inquiry.
“This case is very serious … I simply recall that there is a law that provides for very heavy penalties when you lie under oath. It can be five years in prison, and a large fine of 75 000 euros,” the co-rapporteur of the Senate Law Commission, Jean-Pierre Sueur told Public Senate.
During a passage in the conversation , Alexandre Benalla does not seem to feel threatened, and jokes about his dire situation: “It’s a great experience […] At 26, if you like, there are not many men who get to launch two parliamentary inquiry commissions, and who blocks the functioning of Parliament.”