Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) Judge Petre Lazaroiu complains of pressures from the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, stating he has had a discussion with a presidential aide who talked to him about his dismissal from office. Petre Lazaroiu told MEDIAFAX that the aim of the discussion with the presidential aide, concerning his dismissal from office, may have been to create a conflict regarding his mandate, a conflict that would call into doubt the CCR decision to obligate President Iohannis to dismiss from office the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA).
Petre Lazaroiu has confirmed, for MEDIAFAX, his discussion with presidential aide Simina Tanasescu, which took place on Thursday. The CCR judge said the talk took place at the request of the presidential aide.
“She didn’t summon me at Cotroceni, I wouldn’t have went, but I did meet her. It’s true that she wanted to talk to me, I didn’t approach her,” Petre Lazaroiu said.
“I met Ms Simina Tanasescu (presidential aide – editor’s note), at her request. I went at the Law Faculty, where she had exams. She asked me, in a friendly manner, to go meet her because she has a disagreeable mission. She told me: here, I have this paper (a request from the VeDem Just Foundation, asking CCR President Valer Dorneanu to put Petre Lazaroiu’s mandate up for discussion – editor’s note). I say: I know, it’s an aberration, it has been circulating for around two weeks, I’m not taking it into consideration. Well, yes, she says, but the President is being imperiously asked to issue a decree. Pertaining what? Well, a decree on your dismissal. I say: you know very well he has no grounds, he has no prerogative. Yes, but we are in the situation in which if he doesn’t issue this decree the said association will sue us; if he does, you will sue us. I said: of course, that’s how it’s going to be,” Petre Lazaroiu said.
“I don’t know whether the madam professor spoke on her own behalf or on behalf of the President, but, based on the way I was informed, on the way the discussion took place, I believe the intention is the issuance of a decree to dismiss me, even though it lacks juridical value. I repeat, the President doesn’t have the legal possibility to issue this decree,” Petre Lazaroiu stated for DCNews.
“The intention was probably to warn me. That’s probably why the suggestion was made. Be careful… but I don’t know why I should be careful, since I have nothing to reproach myself with? The intention was probably to create a conflict regarding my mandate, to call into doubt our decision, because I can’t explain it otherwise. (…) There is definitely this preoccupation at Cotroceni, because otherwise Ms Simina Tanasescu wouldn’t have approached me,” Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) Judge Petre Lazaroiu stated for MEDIAFAX.
Asked whether he asked presidential aide Simina Tanasescu in what capacity she summoned him for those talks, Petre Lazaroiu answered: “No. I took it absolutely as a thing between colleagues, a private thing. That is why I said I don’t know whether she acted in her own capacity or on behalf of the President.”
The Constitutional Court magistrate added that he also talked with his other CCR colleagues, who were stupefied when they found out about the contents of his talk with the presidential aide.
“Of stupefaction. No, we are not concerned, because we know what we have to do, but there is basically stupefaction, because one can’t even think this out, let alone implement it. This is from the field of fantasy, of science fiction,” Lazaroiu told MEDIAFAX.
Asked whether he expects President Klaus Iohannis to issue a decree dismissing him from office, Petre Lazaroiu replied: “Let him do it. I’m waiting for it with pleasure.”
Shortly after judge Lazaroiu publicly levelled accusations according to which he is being pressured, the Presidential Administration announced that Simina Tanasescu is on leave and the discussion between the two was purely theoretical and focused on the request lodged by the VeDem Just civic association. Moreover, the mentioned source claims the Presidential Administration is not involved in any way.
“On Thursday, June 14, presidential aide Simina Tanasescu met judge Petre Lazaroiu at the headquarters of the Bucharest University’s Law Faculty, to hand him two books on financial law. We point out that presidential aide Simina Tanasescu is currently on leave, precisely because she is engaged in didactical activities. In this context, a purely theoretical discussion took place about the request lodged by the VeDem Just civic association, a technical discussion between two constitutional law professionals, which did not involve in any way the institution of the Romanian President. Consequently, any kind of speculations or insinuations regarding potential pressures exercised on judge Petre Lazaroiu are completely untrue and groundless,” the Presidential Administration points out.
Petre Lazaroiu, one of the nine judges of the Constitutional Court of Romania, was appointed in office in 2008, by the President of Romania, for a two-year term. On 2 June 2010 he was appointed in office for a full nine-year term.
On June 5, when asked about Lazaroiu’s situation, President Klaus Iohannis stated that “it is very regrettable to have this situation.”
“Yes, I consider that it is a problem and it is not an easy problem at all. Indeed, everyone expects the Constitutional Court to be the first actor that religiously observes the Constitution, and they find out lately that doubts have appeared, that question marks have appeared following a decision of the Court, which states itself that a term can under no form surpass nine years. In fact, there is a judge that has already been in office for ten years. It is not easy to settle this issue, but it is very regrettable to have this situation because, by tolerating these longer terms – not to put it differently –, the Constitutional Court placed itself in the situation of having its observance of the supremacy of the Constitution questioned,” Klaus Iohanns stated.
Reactions to judge’s accusations regarding pressures from Presidential Administration
Constitutional Court President Valer Dorneanu stated on Friday, for MEDIAFAX, against the backdrop of the threats that CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu complained about, that he talked with Lazaroiu but that a dismissal from office can be done only in two clear situations.
“I have talked with Mr Lazaroiu. What I can confirm is that we agree with what he said. The dismissal of a CCR judge, regardless of who appointed him – the President or the two Chambers –, can be done exclusively in two ways: if a criminal act has been committed, or if he committed an act that can be the object of disciplinary accountability, which can be triggered and enforced exclusively by the Constitutional Court’s plenum. Apart from that, who wants to issue dismissal decrees, the discussions taking place do not interest us. I don’t see the pressure we are subjected to from this standpoint. The pressure exists like this, it floats in the air, because everybody is threatening us,” Constitutional Court President Valer Dorneanu stated for MEDIAFAX.
Former CCR Judge Toni Grebla stated on Friday, after judge Petre Lazaroiu complained of pressures from the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, that the pressures put on the CCR are huge.
“I don’t know whether the pressure was transmitted by Simona Tanasescu on her personal behalf or on behalf of President Klaus Iohannis. At any rate, during this period, pressures in general on Constitutional Court judges are huge,” former CCR Judge Toni Grebla told MEDIAFAX.
Dragnea: In America, the President would have been probed immediately
PSD President Liviu Dragnea commented on Friday on the meeting between presidential aide Simina Tanasescu and CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu.
“In America, (…) I believe this lady would have been immediately invited to offer some explanations, and the President would have been probed immediately,” Liviu Dragnea stated at the Social Democratic Youth’s Summer School in Neptun.
He claimed that the attempt being made is to destabilise the Constitutional Court of Romania.
“Namely the CCR – which is among the few institutions that is not yet in their pocket and that has started to bother them – must be destabilised in its own turn because it no longer carries out the orders. The CCR decisions upset some of us, gladden others, depends on how we look at it. Did we, the PSD, carry out any action, took any measures in 2012, when the CCR adopted that erratum and cancelled the votes of 7.4 million Romanians? They didn’t do anything, they were only upset and they criticised, that’s all. The CCR said the Referendum Law is constitutional, but did it do something a year later? No. Nevertheless, it is the CCR and it must be destabilised because it bothered the king,” Dragnea said.
Tariceanu talks about a previous intervention on the part of presidential aide Simina Tanasescu: It was in 2015!
In connection with the scandal regarding the pressures that presidential aide Simina Tanasescu has put on CCR Judge Petre Lazaroiu, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Sunday that the same presidential aide intervened in 2015 on the members of a parliamentary committee.
“Undoubtedly, these things are not usual, and I will give you yet another first-hand account. A former colleague from the PNL called me yesterday and told me. In 2015 there was another discussion in which the aide was involved, with the parliamentarians from the committee on the amending of the Constitution. They were told that the President does not want any modification of the Constitution. Consequently, the boycott order was received, and the committee no longer continued. I was no longer in the PNL in 2015, but a former colleague phoned me in connection with what has been said about this happening too. You know the saying. There is no smoke without fire. If what happened is true, then this issue should be clarified. If the intervention initially recounted is accurate, whether she did it on her own initiative or not, this is a very grave thing and of course such an aide should no longer be in such an office,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu said on Sunday.