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The Daily Fray / ECONOMY

Meet the People Responsible for Saving Strauss-Kahn

May 30, 2011

The Strauss-Kahn defense, like raising a child, takes a village. While the law and order team has been leaking statements from the alleged victim, Strauss-Kahn has been quietly assembling a fully loaded crisis dream team, Reuters reports. People consulted or hired so far include ex-CIA spies, private investigators, slick celebrity attorneys, top executives at corporations, and all the PR agents one might ever need. It's quite the cast of characters. Let's see who one of the world's best-connected men reaches out to in a crisis.

The Suits. The legal team is led by prominent New York criminal lawyer Benjamin Brafman, who has represented Michael Jackson, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and Jay-Z, among other celebrities and high-profile defendants. Known for his wit, preparation, and aggression, according to a 1998 profile in New York magazine, "His detractors see a darker side, accusing Brafman of using underhanded, albeit legal, courtroom tactics to win, and cynically manipulating the press with carefully orchestrated leaks."

The Fixer. While the lawyers are usually the public face, every operation has one mysterious puppet-master that stays behind the scenes, looking at the big picture and pulling strings to make sure everything stays on track. They come with high-power but a very low-profile. In Strauss-Kahn's case, that job belongs the little-known Washington-based "strategic advisory" firm TD International, a source close to the firm told Reuters.

 

TD International's operations are something of a mystery. The firm's website identifies two of its partners as former CIA officers, and says it offers clients such services as "strategic consulting", "commercial intelligence," "due diligence" and "security services." Former clients include Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" who later served as prime minister, and Strauss-Kahn himself. As TD International, naturally, won't "comment on client relationships," Reuters looked at its Justice Department filings. A contract between the firm and Strauss-Kahn dated July 18, 2007, shows he hired the firm to "conduct a specific public relations campaign" and "work is to begin immediately and continue until ascendancy of client to head of IMF." Read: ensure he gets the job.

The Muscle. The second firm Strauss-Kahn hired, a source close to him told Reuters, is Guidepost Solutions, a prominent New York private investigation firm which specializes both in physical security systems and "expert investigative and security consulting services and advice." So both a bodyguard and a private investigator. Sound ominous? A source familiar with Guidepost said one of the firm's principal lines of business is to conduct "factual investigations." In a case like this, the source said, defense lawyers would "need to know what the facts are" and Guidepost could help them figure that out. "But the source downplayed any suggestion Guidepost would be involved in trying to dig up information on Strauss-Kahn's alleged victim." Right.

The Wise Guys. Everyone gets by with a little help from their friends. Since 1999, Strauss-Kahn has worked closely in France with four people known as "the Four Musketeers" who are current or former top executives at the Euro RSCG public relations firm's Paris operation. They are something of a motley crew. Musketeer Stephane Fouks, a former music producer, denies the firm's involvement. The second musketeer Gilles Finchelstein, an "intellectual" who is president of a think-tank close to the Socialist Party, has not yet come up in the story. But the other two seem to be playing a role. Anne Hommel went with Strauss-Kahn's wife Anne Sinclair to New York after his arrest, and distributed her statement of support. And fourth musketeer Ramzi Khiroun is chief spokesman at Lagardere, whose media holdings include Paris Match magazine. The magazine came out with a 10-page spread on the case, with pictures of a happy Strauss-Kahn with Sinclair, and other assorted and loving family photos.

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