Friday

23rd Feb 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.

Far-right parties re-register to access EU funds

After missing a funding deadline, the far-right nationalist Alliance for Peace and Freedom and the Alliance of European National Movements are back in the game and possibly eligible for EU money in 2019.

Commission tells Macron to pick political side

A European Commission paper calls on parties to show their colours before the May 2019 parliament elections, and to choose their successor to Juncker before the end of 2018.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  2. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  3. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  4. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired
  5. Luxembourg and Ireland pay highest minimum wages
  6. Freedom of expression under threat in Spain, warn MEPs
  7. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  8. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  2. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  3. European far-right political party risks collapse
  4. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table
  5. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  6. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  7. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  8. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC President Warns Europe as Holocaust Memory Fades
  2. European Free AlllianceNo Justice From the Spanish Supreme Court Ruling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  6. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  7. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  9. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  10. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society