Strauss-Kahn assembles crisis team to fight back
By Mark Hosenball and Brian Love
WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) - Faced with a legal and media onslaught, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is pulling together a crack team of investigators, former spies and media advisers to fight back against charges he sexually assaulted a hotel chambermaid.
The former IMF chief's advisers will have their work cut out for them, and they may have to use different approaches to handling his legal problems in the United States while trying to bolster his reputation in his native France and beyond.
This may be why the range of damage-control specialists being assembled is so diverse. People consulted or hired so far include ex-CIA spies, experienced New York criminal investigators and some of the best-connected public relations specialists in the French-speaking world.
Strauss-Kahn, who is under house arrest in New York, has denied charges of a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The case could take several months to come to court.
The Frenchman has just found a more permanent place to stay following four days in jail and several more in an apartment besieged by media hordes. A person close to Strauss-Kahn's entourage, who asked to remain anonymous, said only now that he and his wife Anne Sinclair have finally settled in a two-story townhouse in Manhattan's TriBeCa neighborhood are they and their lawyers able to start mapping out a defence strategy.
In Washington, the team is in the process of signing up TD International, a "strategic advisory" firm which offers both public relations and investigative services and is staffed and run by former CIA operations officers and U.S. diplomats.
In New York, according a person familiar with the arrangement, the team has hired a private investigations firm experienced in criminal cases. The firm, Guidepost Solutions, describes itself as a "full-service investigations and security consulting firm."
In Paris, Strauss-Kahn's team has sought counsel, at least informally, from some of his long-time personal advisers affiliated with Euro RSCG, one of France's best-connected PR outfits. While the firm has denied it is involved, a source close to Strauss-Kahn's entourage said at least some of the advisers who have worked with Strauss-Kahn in the past are quietly advising him again now. Continued...