Feijóo's resignation to appeal the conviction of box B breaks a decade of judicial strategy of the PP

In just a few hours, the judicial strategy that the Popular Party has maintained for a decade to defend itself from the accusations for its B box was diluted this Monday. The decision of its new president, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, to withdraw the appeal from the Supreme Court against the sentence imposed by the National High Court, ends almost a decade of challenging the existence of regular financing in court. "It's Bárcenas' box B, not the PP's", was and continues to be the maxim of the conservatives, although the party has just given up the last possibility that its truth, the systematic denial of irregular financing, ends up become legal truth.

A headline was enough in the middle of the Andalusian electoral campaign –“The PP asks for the acquittal of Bárcenas”– so that the PP renounces a whole decade of resources, some of them turned on from the legal plane; of interventions by his lawyer at the oral hearings; of recusal of magistrates who judged as enemies; and warnings that the Supreme Court would have the last word.

The new leadership of the PP tried this Monday to delegate responsibility to its predecessor, Pablo Casado. But when the PP's lawyer dated the appeal before the Supreme Court for the ruling on box B, on April 19, and his attorney effectively registered it, on the 20th, Alberto Núñez Feijóo had been at the head of the PP for almost three weeks, and good part of its leadership, at least the closest and most important core, was already named and with its functions assigned. Some of them even had responsibilities in Pablo Casado's PP or in the time that elapsed between the announcement of his resignation and the proclamation of his successor.

The most relevant name is that of the current Secretary General, Cuca Gamarra. Feijóo's number two, she was one of the few people who was part of the PP leadership throughout Casado's term, and she is the only one who has survived in the new Management Committee. When the “ad cautelam” registration was presented in March, that is, before Feijóo formally assumed command of the PP, she had been promoted to general coordinator. A position that in the absence of the general secretary (Teodoro García Egea had resigned in February) and with a retired president implies great control over the organization.

Another of the names that were already there when the appeal was filed is that of the person who gave the press conference this Monday to explain the decision to withdraw the brief: Esteban González Pons. Although the Valencian did not hold positions of organic responsibility with Casado, he was appointed president of the Organizing Committee of the Congress that was held in Seville. During the weeks he was in that position, Pons acted as the PP's unofficial spokesman and was the one who transferred to journalists not only matters related to the conclave, but also others of a marked political nature.

In that organizing committee there was another relevant name: the current director of the Legal Department of the PP and director of its Department of Regulatory Compliance (Compliance), Alberto Durán. He is, and was with Casado, the person in charge of the legal affairs of the PP. A house official, as the workers who are directly hired are called in the PP. His relationship with the Bárcenas case is intimate: it was he who gave the order to destroy the famous hard drives of Luis Bárcenas, as he acknowledged in court that acquitted the PP of any crime about.

This Monday, before journalists, the current leadership of the PP said they had found out about the existence and content of the resource "through the media." And although they maintain that the party "is innocent" in this case, which is not the first in which it has been convicted, the proximity of the Andalusian elections has done the rest: "We are sure that the PP is innocent and was unjustly convicted" Gonzalez Pons said. But he added: “The legal strategy collides with the political logic. Politics should weigh more than legal strategy”.

For their part, sources from the previous directorate assured elDiario.es on Monday that they had "nothing to do with it." "No order was given in that regard. Married did not know anything," settled the same sources.

Feijóo's decision constitutes an unexpected end to a strategy that began with a failure, the attempt in 2013 to turn Rajoy's maxim that the Gürtel was a plot against the PP and not the PP into a legal figure: being an accusation in the cause. Judge Pablo Ruz ended up expelling the prosecution party in the Gürtel case for actually acting as Barcenas's defense attorney. Those were the times before the discovery of the treasurer's papers. And he continued with the same magistrate's refusal for the PP to act as an accusation in the open room once the notes of box B were known.

In each of those moments he has been present and has starred in the Jesús Santos strategyformer prosecutor of the National Court, always recognized with distinguished destinations by PP governments when he was active, and head lawyer of the formation as soon as he activated the revolving door and was signed by the prestigious firm Baker & McKenzie.

Santos was a fundamental support in the time of Mariano Rajoy in the Presidency of the party and María Dolores de Cospedal in the General Secretariat. Since the departure of the latter, almost everything has been trouble for the veteran lawyer in his professional relationship with the PP. In February 2021, he had to publicly rectify and admit that he had consulted with the PP about his meetings with a friend of Bárcenas, facilitated by none other than a judge of the National High Court then in office, Enrique López, today Minister of Justice of the Community of Madrid and, until the arrival of Feijóo, head of Justice affairs in the party, at the time of Casado.

Despite the fact that both from the national leadership of the PP and from those around Isabel Díaz Ayuso they assure that the relationship is unbeatable, the fact of the presentation of the appeal was not transmitted, always according to the theory outlined by González Pons on Monday, and despite the two positions, national party and regional government held by Enrique López.

The denialism practiced by the PP since the first evidence of its irregular financing appeared reached a critical point due to the oral hearing that led to the conviction that Feijóo now refuses to appeal. In front of the court paraded all the presidents and general secretaries that the PP had until Mariano Rajoy. All of them denied knowing the existence of a B box or having received bonuses. It did not matter that others admitted it and that there were already two court rulings proving the existence of box B. The ruling of the National High Court last October was the third. If the Supreme Court does not correct itself, the sentence on the payment of the Genoa works with black money from the big builders will be the fourth in which it is mentioned, whether or not the resources of the other parties are fully or partially estimated .

The legal arguments presented by Santos in the appeal now withdrawn [leánse aquí] They contrasted with the assumption of the crime for which Luis Bárcenas was convicted. With a lawyer who lasted as long as his trial and subsequent conviction, the former treasurer saw his sentence reduced by acknowledging the facts. He was sentenced to two years in prison for his participation in the tax crimecorresponding to 2007, committed by the company that reformed Genoa and that agreed to charge in black.

The prescription prevented further judging. All the businessmen who came to be imputed in the instruction of the piece of box B saw how the case was filed against them because there was no way to demonstrate that the money that the PP delivered was in exchange for a certain award. The bonuses that Bárcenas reflected in his papers, including Mariano Rajoy and María Dolores de Cospedal, and that some of those who received them recognized at the oral hearing, would have been a widely prescribed tax offense. The existence of box B had been proven, however, in the ruling of the first period of Gürtel and in its ratification by the Supreme Court.

So far, Feijóo's decision on the PP's judicial strategy, its 'face A'. The party has maintained another hidden strategy all this time, at times allegedly using public resources, to sabotage the investigation of its funding irregular. That is what part 7 of the Villarejo case is about, the one that investigates the espionage of Bárcenas with reserved funds that, until now, has led to the prosecution of the Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, his number two, Francisco Martínez; and the first line of police commanders of the political brigade. Although the sabotage strategy was not limited to Operation Kitchen, as the investigators of Box B themselves attest, harassed at their jobs while investigating the PP.

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