“I knew absolutely nothing”, “I am not aware”, “I do not know”, “You will have to ask whoever has said it”, “what do you want me to tell you?” … And so on for two hours and half. A Mariano Rajoy in its purest form entrenched himself in Congress this Monday without yielding an inch to the Kitchen commission, which investigates the plot hatched under his Government in the Ministry of the Interior to destroy the evidence that the ex-treasurer of the PP Luis Bárcenas had against him match. The repeated refusals of the former president to the questioning of the deputies were accompanied by gestures of perplexity: he extended his arms, raised his eyebrows, shrugged his shoulders, his mouth fell open … He took his refusal so far that he even refused to acknowledge the existence of a box b in the PP, already accredited by three court decisions.
Rajoy’s appearance, the last of those scheduled by the Kitchen commission, had opened with a photograph exhibited by the socialist deputy Felipe Sicilia. It was a picture from February 2009, when the Gürtel case and it showed the then president of the PP, surrounded by the entire leadership of his party. That day, Rajoy had denounced that “this is not a plot of the PP, it is a plot against the PP,” Sicilia reminded him, to ask him if he maintained that statement today. The former president avoided repeating those words, but the substance of his statements did not change substantially.
Three sentences and thousands of pages of judicial summaries later, Rajoy continues to recognize absolutely nothing and still presents his party as the victim of baseless accusations. He went so far as to say that it “makes his hair stand on end” that the “right to the presumption of innocence” is being violated, “one of the fundamental democratic principles”. In this endeavor he had the enthusiastic participation of the spokesperson for the Popular Group, Cuca Gamarra, who, along with several deputies, had wrapped up Rajoy upon his arrival at the Congress hall where the appearance was held. When it was his turn to speak, instead of the questions posed by the rest of the groups, Gamarra pulled out pages and read a speech in which, for 15 minutes, he deployed a varied range of adjectives to disqualify the Congressional investigations into the harassment of the Ministry of the Interior to Bárcenas: “inquisitorial”, “totalitarian”, “derision”, “lynching”, “righteous tricks” …
What most exasperated most of the deputies was that the former president denied the existence of a box b in his party. Rajoy took advantage of a dialectical ruse: that the PP has not been convicted for it – it was not possible because in the previous Penal Code there was no crime of illegal financing -, but there are three judicial decisions, one from the Supreme Court and two from the National Court, which considers its existence to be accredited. The former president was unmoved when the Citizen’s spokesman, Edmundo Bal, opened his computer and read aloud the Supreme Court ruling that once corroborated the previous conviction issued by the National Court on the ‘Gürtel case’: “On the page 1077 it is said: ‘The court had sufficient evidence to conclude the existence of a box b… ”.
Rajoy kept shrugging his shoulders and denying: “There is no conviction for the box b …” The other of the sentences that considers it proven, that of the National Court for the works in the headquarters of the PP paid with black money, was exhibited by the ERC spokesperson, Gabriel Rufián, who got up from his seat and approached the former president to hand it over to him. Rajoy replied showing the cover of his latest book.
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The former president’s refusals covered almost everything. Also to questions from Rufián, the most tense of the dialectical crosses, he assured that he did not often dispatch with his Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, the main accused by the caso Kitchen. “Above all he spoke with the economics and with the Foreign Ministry,” he said. And before Sofía Castañón, from Unidas Podemos, she even said that she did not even worry when the Bárcenas papers.
“Didn’t it bother you that these accusations were being made?” Asked the deputy.
“It didn’t bother me at all.”
—And there was no concern in the PP about the evidence that was being published?
—No, there was no concern in the PP as such.
Regarding Commissioner José Manuel Villarejo, he never spoke with him, nor was a message exchanged, nor did he see him “never anywhere.” What’s more, he said he doesn’t even remember when he found out about it. Rufián then read him the long list of positions he held in the Aznar governments, including that of Minister of the Interior, to question that he did not know who Villarejo was. Rajoy began to complain that “here there is no question, it is accused”, the interrogation of the ERC spokesman increased in tone and ended with surrealist dialogues:
“Have you been president, Mr. Rajoy?”
“Well, I don’t know. What would you say, Mr. Rufián?”
One of the former president’s lines of defense was to reduce any credibility to Villarejo and Bárcenas. “A smart strategy, if it weren’t for the fact that there are more testimonies,” Jon Iñarritu, from EH Bildu, told him. And he cited them: not only several police positions, but collaborators of Rajoy himself, such as former minister Fernández Díaz and the one who was number two of this, Francisco Martínez. The wall of the former president, between protests, sarcasm and vaporous phrases, remained unchanged. De Fernández Díaz y Martínez limited himself to saying that they are “magnificent” people of whom he has “the highest regard.”
At that point, almost everything had been asked, and Josune Gorospe, from the PNV, only commented to him if he believes that public opinion is going to understand that the Prime Minister and leader of the PP is unaware of everything that he claims to be unaware of. Rajoy shrugged for the penultimate time:
“Well, some will believe it and others will not.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.