French National Front leader Marine Le Pen made an unannounced visit to New York and caused a stir when she was spotted at Trump Tower flanked by a longtime friend of President-elect Donald Trump.
But Le Pen, who leads in the latest opinion poll for the French presidential election, had no meeting scheduled with Trump nor with members of his transition team, according to representatives for her and for the president-elect. Her campaign chief, David Rachline, said she was making a private trip to New York.
Le Pen waved off reporters when approached while she sat drinking coffee with three other people outside the Trump Ice Parlor on Thursday.
Among them was Guido Lombardi, an adviser to Le Pen who lives three stories below Trump’s penthouse and is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump once described Lombardi and his wife as “friends for a long time.” Lombardi said last year that he helped organize a Trump rally in Washington during the campaign.
Lombardi said in a telephone interview that Le Pen visited his apartment on Wednesday, but he wouldn’t discuss the rest of her schedule in New York or the reason for Thursday’s visit to the tower, saying “there are a lot of people in that building.”
Both Lombardi and Louis Aliot, Le Pen’s partner and a close adviser, said there was no meeting planned with the president-elect. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Le Pen “is not meeting with anyone from our team.” Another Trump spokesman, Sean Spicer said he didn’t know why Le Pen was in Trump Tower. “It’s a public building,” he said.
Le Pen is set to launch her official campaign on Feb. 4 in a meeting with supporters in the French city of Lyon. She has repeatedly said she supports Trump’s policies for the U.S. and called him “a sign of hope” for European anti-establishment politicians in a press conference this month.
Trump has met on several occasions with Nigel Farage, the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party, most recently in December.
Terrence Doop, Zachary Mider, and Helene Fouquet
12 January 2017