President Klaus Iohannis announced on Monday that he will not comply with the Justice Minister’s request to dismiss National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.
He noted that two state institutions have reached opposite conclusions on the request to have the DNA Chief Prosecutor dismissed from office, referring to the Justice Ministry and to the CSM’s negative report on the dismissal request. The Head of State pointed out that the arguments in favour of the dismissal, presented by the Justice Minister, did not convince him. Justice Minister Tudorel Toader has announced that the Justice Ministry will notify the Constitutional Court about the President’s refusal, deeming that the Head of State “lacks the legal ability and the functional prerogatives to assess the professional and managerial activity of the Chief Prosecutor of the DNA.”
The President reminded that in February the Justice Minister sent him a request to dismiss the DNA Chief Prosecutor, accompanied by the report on the DNA’s managerial activity, which was only a first step in a procedure in which, by law, the President has the last say.
“As you probably recall, after some time, in mid-March I also received the CSM’s report. The CSM report reached a conclusion entirely different from that of the minister’s so-called report. As we know, the CSM report was negative. Considering the CSM’s constitutional role as guarantor of the independence of the judiciary, this report cannot be treated as a simple additional optional element. Even though not binding, it certainly cannot be ignored,” the President pointed out.
Klaus Iohannis noted that “when analysing the same actions or inactions and when applying the same legal texts, two state authorities – the Justice Ministry and the CSM – reached entirely opposite conclusions.”
“Once I was informed of the minister’s proposal and I received the CSM’s report, obviously I asked the Presidential Administration’s special departments for an analysis and several proposals. Analysing the reasons for which the Justice Minister requests the dismissal of the DNA Chief Prosecutor, I noticed that the author of the report – report that accompanied the proposal – considers that this is, I quote, “the adoption of a position” on the public debates of the last year, which clearly induces the perception that the Justice Minister’s assessment may be subjective. This perception is also strengthened by the presence, in the report, of aspects regarding the professional career of the Justice Minister,” the Head of State underscored.
Likewise, the President pointed out that one of the reasons substantiating the dismissal request “uses data and information that are either not pertinent or exceed the period under assessment that the minister announced.”
“Some Judicial Inspection reports, CSM decisions or CCR decisions were interpreted and used by the Justice Minister in a sense that differs from their contents to say the least. (…) Consequently, the Justice Minister’s reasons in favour of the dismissal did not convince me. In fact, most of them do not even correspond to the applicable legal provisions. In conclusion, I will not comply with the Justice Minister’s request to dismiss DNA Chief Prosecutor Kovesi,” Klaus Iohanns announced.
The President said the detailed report on the technical reasons for this his decision will be made available for the press and will be sent to the Justice Minister.
Justice Minister announces he will notify CCR about Iohannis’s refusal to dismiss Kovesi
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Monday that he will notify the Constitutional Court about President Klaus Iohannis’s refusal to dismiss DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.
“Given that the Romanian President lacks the legal ability and the functional prerogatives to assess the professional and managerial activity of the Chief Prosecutor of the DNA; Given that the arguments that formed the basis of triggering the dismissal procedure have become more relevant and more consistent; Looking at the legislation applicable in this field; Using the jurisprudence of the constitutional litigation court, we will notify the Constitutional Court about the President’s refusal to dismiss the Chief Prosecutor of the DNA!” Tudorel Toader wrote on his Facebook page immediately after the Head of State’s announcement.
Toader requested dismissal for 20 “intolerable actions”
On February 22, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader demanded that the DNA Chief Prosecutor be dismissed from office. In a press conference, the Justice Minister presented a report on 20 “intolerable actions” on the part of the DNA Chief Prosecutor.
Among them, Toader mentioned the probe into Government Emergency Ordinance no.13, her refusal to be heard in Parliament, forgeries in dossiers, the lack of an appropriate reaction in the case of the alleged abuses committed at DNA Ploiesti, and the harming of Romania’s image by misinforming the European bodies.
In an 80-minute press conference, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader presented a synthesis of the 36-page report on the managerial activity of the DNA leadership, blaming Laura Codruta Kovesi for 20 “intolerable actions” and demanding her dismissal. “The present report, accompanied by the proposal to have her dismissed, will be transmitted to the CSM’s Section for Prosecutor and to the Romanian President, in order for them to analyse and decide in line with their prerogatives,” the Justice Minister said.
Immediately after that press conference, President Klaus Iohannis pointed out, in a communique, that his assessment of the activity of the DNA and of its leadership differs from Tudorel Toader’s. The Head of State reaffirmed his support for Kovesi.
“Due to the lack of clarity in the presentation of the Report on the managerial activity of the DNA, and considering that the Romanian President’s assessment of the activity of the DNA and of its leadership differs from the Justice Minister’s assessment, a thorough analysis of this document is called for, an analysis set to be carried out by the special departments of the Presidential Administration. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has repeatedly expressed his content with the activity of the DNA and of its leadership, a point of view that he continues to maintain,” reads the communique that the Presidential Administration issued at the time.
The Section for Prosecutors of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) gave a negative opinion on 27 February to Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s proposal to remove from office DNA’s Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi.
PSD’s Dragnea: If President Iohannis refuses to remove Kovesi from office, we do not consider impeaching him
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) does not consider impeaching President Klaus Iohannis in case the head of state refuses to remove from office Chief Prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) Laura Codruta Kovesi, party president Liviu Dragnea stated on Monday, at the end of PSD’s Executive Committee meeting.
“Under no circumstance are we considering the impeachment of Romania’s President. Nothing of the sort,” Dragnea affirmed.
In context, he underscored that both premier Viorica Dancila and PSD “fully” support Justice Minister Tudorel Toader in any demarche that the latter might carry out after President Klaus Iohannis’s announcement regarding the removal from office of DNA’s Chief Prosecutor.
Asked at the end of PSD’s CExN meeting whether it was decided what the Government will do after the President’s announcement in Kovesi’s case, Dragnea said:
“I know from Mrs. Prime Minister that she fully backs Minister Toader and we support Minister Toader and depending on what the President will announce, if Minister Toader intends to carry out a demarche, Mrs. Prime Minister will back him, and we will also grant him political support.”
He added that he appreciates “the advice” given by Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu regarding the notification of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) if the President refuses to dismiss Kovesi, adding however that premier Dancila “does not need being told by anyone to take responsibility.”
“I intently listened to Calin Popescu-Tariceanu’s piece of advice – both the Prime Minister and I. The Prime Minister does not need anyone telling her to assume her responsibilities, she is a person who assumes responsibility no matter what position she occupies,” PSD’s leader added.
Dragnea maintained that this topic has already been discussed in the ruling coalition.
“It has already been discussed. (…) It was a good decision. I have no other decision to mention because we are waiting to see what happens today. Let us see what the President does.”
PSD-ALDE coalition has announced in recent weeks that it mulls notifying the Constitutional Court
In the absence of a favourable response to Justice Minister Tudorel Toader’s dismissal request, the PSD-ALDE coalition has announced in recent weeks that it mulls notifying the Constitutional Court. This scenario was not ruled out by Premier Viorica Dancila, nor by PSD President Liviu Dragnea.
Last week, Premier Viorica Dancila did not rule out notifying the CCR if President Iohannis refuses to dismiss DNA Chief Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, however she announced that she will take a decision after the Head of State makes an official announcement. The Premier gave assurances that she “will definitely support” Justice Minister Tudorel Toader.
“I never hesitated to take responsibility. Maybe this was also the reason [party] President Liviu Dragnea, the party, they backed me for the Prime Minister’s office. But concerning this aspect, first I want to see what the President does, to be able to take a decision. However, what I can tell you is that I will surely back the Justice Minister. (…) I can’t anticipate, I’m waiting to see what decision President Iohannis takes, but I emphasise: I back the Justice Minister,” Dancila stated when asked whether she might lodge a notification regarding a juridical conflict of a constitutional nature in case the President does not dismiss Kovesi.
In what concerns her relationship with Tudorel Toader, Prime Minister Dancila said she is working with him very well.
“I’m working with the Justice Minister very well, I believe the Justice Minister did his duty. He’s a man with experience in this field, I believe he took things very seriously and he had an approach which showed seriousness. (…) I believe the minister always knew that the Prime Minister will be by the side of the Justice Minister of her Cabinet,” she said.
Last Tuesday, when asked whether the Constitutional Court will be notified in case the Head of State refuses to dismiss Laura Codruta Kovesi, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that doing so would be the Government’s role and the Premier must adopt this position.
“I believe this will go to the CCR (in case the President refuses to dismiss the DNA Chief Prosecutor – editor’s note). But if we analyse things as they are, the conflict could be between the Executive and the President, because the report is authored by the Justice Minister, in relation to the President. Of course, the Constitution gives that right to the Speakers of the two Chambers too, but things are very clear and we’ll see that it would be logical for the Justice Minister and the Premier to be the ones who take notice in this case. Notifying the Court is not justified in this situation, it’s only a supplementary action. The CCR unequivocally decided that the President does not have an essential role in appointing and dismissing, and the decision is clear. (…) We must see the President’s decision. We haven’t discussed this very much, but the Premier, regardless of who he/she is, must undertake this role, not anyone else; especially since they have the Justice Minister who is an authority in this field, I expect the Government to take responsibility for this solution,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated.
Asked whether President Klaus Iohannis should accept the dismissal request, the Senate Speaker said: “It depends on the way the President understands to exercise his mandate. (…) The protocols and the way the DNA operated through elite unites have appeared, all the information in the public space, the violation of the Constitution, also included in the Justice Minister’s report (on the dismissal of the DNA Chief Prosecutor – editor’s note)… it’s difficult to ignore these things,” Tariceanu added.