The WSJ has a bare-bones story out tonight about Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers making a “surprise court appearance” tomorrow to ask the judge to relax his bail conditions. There’s no clue from the piece, though, about what unusual circumstances might have led to such a surprise.

Meanwhile, over at the NYT: Surprise.

The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials…

According to the two law enforcement officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.

That man, the investigators learned, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana. He was among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia and New York.

They also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five different companies. The woman insisted she only had a single phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends.

In addition, the official said, she told investigators that part of her application for asylum included a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application. She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application.

DSK’s lawyers never disputed that there was sexual contact between them; in fact, allegedly, there’s physical evidence to substantiate it. Their claim all along was that it was consensual and that the accuser had a credibility problem. And now here we are, with the parties “discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges.” The Times suggests without saying that she was trying to shake him down — which might very well have worked if not for these new details — but if, as they hint, she was making easy money as part of some drug ring, why would she risk drawing scrutiny from the police by lobbing a sensational rape accusation at a famous diplomat in line to be the next president of France? And did she simply luck out in choosing her target, or did she somehow know that Strauss-Kahn is a guy whose issues with women are so notorious back home that not only do acquaintances talk of him being “sick,” but that another woman had accused him of attempted rape four years ago?

If DSK really is innocent and this is some elaborate scam, here’s a taste of how sinisterly elaborate it really was. From a May 21 post on the Daily Beast:

The luxury-hotel maid who alleges she was sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn was found by a supervisor in a hallway where she hid after escaping from the former International Monetary Fund director’s room. Hotel workers described her as traumatized, having difficulty speaking, and immediately concerned about pressing charges and losing her job, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The maid also repeatedly spit on the walls and floors of the suite in front of her hotel colleagues as she alleged that Strauss-Kahn locked her in his room and forced her into oral sex acts. That saliva is being tested for DNA markers and could become a crucial piece of evidence in the case, the sources said…

Throughout the questioning, the maid appeared traumatized, at one point going to a bathroom to try to vomit and several times spitting on the floor and walls of the suite, according to the sources.

Supposedly she became “visibly upset” upon returning to the suite, and was nauseated and trembling during questioning. That’s why the cops raced to the airport and pulled him off the plane, of course. She was that credible, even to seasoned NYPD investigators. Which makes me wonder, does the prosecution believe that she’s lying to them about the incident or do they merely believe that they won’t be able to convict him once the defense is through with her on the stand?

Exit question: DSK back in the French presidential race?

Update: An even better question from the comments:

If she was making easy money as part of a drug ring, why would she be working as a maid?

Maybe the boyfriend’s simply using her as a patsy, exploiting her bank and phone accounts to hide his “business” activities as best he can. Note too that the Times doesn’t say that she raised the subject of “possible benefits” from pursuing charges against DSK. She merely discussed it with the boyfriend; he might have brought it up, realizing that it could have meant a payday.