France drops rape investigation against budget minister

French investigators have dropped an investigation into rape accusations against President Emmanuel Macron's budget minister, citing a lack of evidence.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Friday the investigation was unable to prove a lack of consent, and did not find signs of "coercion, threat, surprise or violence."

A preliminary investigation was opened last month after the woman filed a lawsuit accusing Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin of raping her in 2009.

An investigation is ongoing into a separate abuse complaint against Darmanin. He denies wrongdoing.

Macron expressed support for Darmanin and for another government minister accused of rape. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot denied the allegation.

They are the highest-profile French figures to face accusations of sexual misconduct since reports about sexual abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein drew worldwide attention.