With his Dominique Strauss-Kahn biography due out on Thursday, Michel Taubmann has been chatty with the French press, spilling what just may be the closest we'll ever get to Strauss-Kahn's version of what happened in room 2806 of the Sofitel Hotel on May 14. Calling the encounter with Nafissatou Diallo "consensual but stupid," Taubmann suggests the tryst started with a gaze at Strauss-Kahn's naked body by a housekeeper who was sent to steal a mobile phone he used for official International Monetary Fund business. Taubmann spoke with the French magazine Paris Match, and the French-language interviews and coverage of excerpts from his book appear to be incomplete on the website. But with a little help from Google Translate and some bilingual journalists on Twitter, we can piece together an early version of Strauss-Kahn's side of the now infamous affair.
The question of how a consensual sexual encounter could have come about in the seven minutes between when hotel key card records show Nafissatou Diallo entered Strauss-Kahn's room and when he placed a call to his daughter some seven minutes later has lingered since Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance threw out the charges in August. In September, Slate's Emily Yoffe asked, "If there was no force, and no money, are we to believe it was his continental charm that caused Diallo to get on her knees and relieve a stranger?" Strauss-Kahn's answer, at least according to Taubmann, is essentially yes.
Karim Lebhour, the United Nations correspondent for Radio France Internationale, tweets some English translation of Taubmann's account of what happened when Diallo entered Strauss-Kahn's room as he emerged from the shower: "DSK tells his biographer : He's naked, Diallo looks straight at him, then at his sex. He couldn't resist a moment of pleasure." A follow-up tweet reads: "DSK tells biographer Nafissatou Diallo didn't rush at all to leave the room, looked at his sex, he saw an invitation." He attributes that information to a tweet from another French radio reporter, Remi Sulmont. Lebhour continues in another tweet: "#DSK account of room 2806 events: He couldn't resist a moment of pleasure, she couldn't resist him / or was sent to set him up."
The Google translation of one Paris Match story reads: "Nafissatou Diallo would have been little surprise or shocked 'DSK' naked out of the bathroom, writes Michel Taubmann. It would be headed towards the exit without haste before fixing Dominique Strauss-Kahn's view, writes the biographer." According to another story in La Tribune (attributed to Reuters and also translated by Google), the "view," which can be better translated as a gaze, "would have been an invitation and would not have resisted the temptation of a sexual act, but agreed precipitated, says Michel Taubmann, who says the story is based on events by Dominique Strauss-Kahn himself."
But Diallo's motive for meeting Strauss-Kahn as he exited the shower, according to Taubmann, wasn't one of lust. He suggests in this interview with Paris Match that she was there to steal Strauss-Kahn's Blackberry. Investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein suggested in a report in the New York Review of Books on Sunday that Strauss-Kahn already suspected his "IMF BlackBerry" of being hacked by political opponents. In the interview with Paris Match, Taubmann concurs with that theory, saying the idea it was lost in a taxi or at a restaurant, as Strauss-Kahn first believed, "seems unlikely and does not correspond to the study of telephone records." Lebhour provides some translation help, tweeting: "#DSK biographer suggests Nafissatou Diallo was sent to the room to steal his BlackBerry phone."
In the end, no cohesive conspiracy theory comes from Taubmann's comments or the biography excerpts he shared with the French press. Similarly, Epstein didn't present an outright theory in his Review story. Both simply raise questions about the publicly available facts. But Lebhour tweets the idea that the mounting coverage suggesting a conspiracy bodes a campaign by Strauss-Kahn himself to infuse the narrative of what happened on May 14 with a heavy dose of suspicion: "In short, #DSK strikes back, fuels conspiracy theory. 1st salvo via Epstein's article, 2d with Taubmann's book. Still lots of discrepancies."