Monday

21st May 2018

Investigation

Meet Le Pen's friends at Trump Tower

  • The FN is "looking for funding everywhere ... so why not in the United States?", Le Pen said.

On 12 January, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was spotted by photographers drinking coffee at Trump Tower in New York.

She suggested at the time that she wanted to meet with then US president-elect Donald Trump, but it didn't work out.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

What few people know is that the night before, a cocktail party was organised in the same building to raise funds for her political party, the National Front (FN).

The party was organised by an Italian businessman George "Guido" Lombardi.

Lombardi, who lives in Trump Tower, has close links with the European far-right, especially Italy's Lega Nord. He says that he has been a friend of Marine Le Pen for 20 years.

"There were people [at the party] who were favorable to her, supporters, people who are friends of mine, entrepreneurs, at least three UN ambassadors, some political consultants and advisers," Lombardi told EUobserver in a recent phone interview.

He refused to give names but described the guests that came to meet Le Pen as "American businessmen, American representatives from Wall Street, Israeli businessmen, a couple of Russian businessmen, a couple of Asian businessmen, a couple of Italians, some French nationals."

The event, which EUobserver spoke to several attendees to gather details, was an indication that Le Pen and her party have tried to gather support from the new US president and his supporters ahead of the French presidential election on 23 April and 7 May.

Friendly atmosphere

"Marine has had friends for years at Trump Tower," Rosine Ghawji, the president of the Trump-France committee, told EUobserver.

She said that a "bunch" of Le Pen's friends came to the party, some of them who live in Trump Tower and "want to keep the privacy".

There was "good chocolate" and a “friendly atmosphere," she said. "Islam was a big issue, especially the danger from the Muslim Brotherhood."

Born in the United States to immigrant parents from Italy and France, and a former member of the US conservative Tea Party movement, Ghawji is a longtime friend and supporter of Donald Trump as well as of the Le Pen family.

"We love the way they talk about the love of their country," she said about the FN.

Ghawji said she preferred Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of FN and father of Marine, but that she supported the daughter, "as she is the only candidate" of the party to the presidential election.

On the pictures published on 12 January, Le Pen is having coffee with three men in a Trump Tower lobby.

The first one is Louis Aliot, her partner, and a FN MEP. The second one is Lombardi. The third man is Pierre Ceyrac, a former member of the FN and of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

"The National Front has been making very good contacts in the US for a long time," Ceyrac told EUobserver, adding that he accompanied Jean-Marie Le Pen several times to the US and Marine Le Pen in a previous trip there in 2003.

"She has a vision which is totally different from her father," said Ceyrac, who has known the presidential candidate for more than 30 years. "Marine is open to the world, she has a great humanist sensitivity."

"She is not antisemitic at all, not racist at all,” he said, adding: “It’s the same with her father, by the way.”

The 11 January cocktail party at Trump Tower "was really nice," he told this website.

"People were very happy to see Marine," he said. "There were Indians, people from Israel, Pakistan … Iranians. Wealthy people… A Chinese man who manages pension funds worth several billion dollars thought that Marine Le Pen was very nice."

The January US trip was one of several trips Le Pen made in recent months. She went to Lebanon in February, Chad in March, and on 24 March, she was received by Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.

Why not in the United States?

The FN is "looking for funding everywhere ... so why not in the United States?", Le Pen told Nova Burzoazie, a Czech media outlet that describes itself as an "alt-right news network".

The impact of her US trip, and how much money she could raise remains unclear.

Jean-Yves Camus, a French far-right expert, told EUobserver that he has heard about "a number of small meetings" organised by the FN in the United States, "without any doubt to collect some money".

He said that he was not aware of major contributions made by US citizens, but that "some people may be have given some money on their own capacity".

He noted that the influence of Trump supporters on the French presidential election was "zero," because "pro-Trump circles are extremely small in France”.

In November, Marion Marechal-Le Pen, Le Pen's niece and MP to one of the two FN seats in the French parliament, publicly expressed her wish to collaborate with Steve Bannon, the former editor of the US far-right news website Breitbart and now Trump's chief strategist in the White House.

But no meeting has taken place so far, and the French version of Breitbart, which was announced after Trump's victory, still has not been launched.

'Normandy landing'

A week after the Trump Tower cocktail party, the Trump-France committee held a gala at Paris's Hotel Intercontinental to celebrate the president's inauguration.

VIP guest, Jean-François Cope, a former chair of the French center-right The Republicans party, did not show up.

But Bruno Gollnisch, a FN MEP, and Robert Menard, the FN-affiliated mayor of Beziers in southern France, dropped by.

Ghawji told this website that she had "personally" urged the two men not to come. "It was a party for the official members of the national assembly, for the members of the French-American committee," she said.

She said she was still angry that Le Pen's party didn't respect her wish: "You don't crash a party where you are not invited."

She said however that she considers coming to France to support Le Pen for the election.

Lombardi also plans to cross the Atlantic.

"This Vichy government in Paris needs a Normandy landing, a D-Day," he said, comparing the current French state with the regime that collaborated with Nazi Germany.

The article was corrected on 20 April at 14.30, to describe The Republicans as a centre-right party, and not centre-left as originally written.

A French translation of this article may be found here.

A German translation of this article may be found here.

Marine Le Pen spotted at Trump Tower

Marine Le Pen reportedly did not meet with anyone from the Donald Trump team following her unannounced appearance at the Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Interview

Khodorkovsky: Putin's betting on Le Pen

Russia will try to help Le Pen win the French election the same way it helped Trump in the US, Khodorkovsky, a Kremlin critic, has said.

Le Pen wants to 'do away' with EU

The far-right presidential candidate said that she would create a "Europe of free nations", while taking France out of Nato command and "tie up" Russia to Europe.

Voters 'change face' of French politics

Newcomer Macron and far-right leader Le Pen qualified for the presidential election run-off in a vote that pushed aside the two main traditional parties.

Opinion

Erdogan and the Queen

Images of Erdogan being greeted by the Queen will be beamed to Turkish households, a sure boost for Erdogan's bid to make his way back to his own presidential palace in Ankara after next month's elections.

Opinion

The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  3. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  6. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  7. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  8. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  9. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  10. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  11. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations