During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump’s combination of extremist national security paranoia and borderline-leftist economic populism was often compared to that of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front. Top Trump adviser Steve Bannon is also known to admire Le Pen and other European nationalist (read: white) leaders. Thursday, LePen showed up at Trump Tower. From the press’s pool report:
Marine Le Pen was spotted with three men having coffee in the basement of Trump Tower around 11 a.m.
Pool asked whether she was here to meet with PEOTUS and she declined to answer. Asked if she was here in a professional or personal capacity and she declined to answer. Asked whether she would come speak to the pool later and one of her associates said “OK.”
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer says, however, that Le Pen is not meeting with Trump “or anyone else from the transition team,” in CNN’s words. A subsequent pool report has identified one of the men with Le Pen as her partner and another as George Lombardi of a self-described “grassroots” group called Citizens for Trump that was not formally affiliated with the Trump campaign. So maybe they just wanted to get some grub and talk some Trump and they figured—hey, why not Trump Tower? In the basement?
Le Pen, who’s made her party more palatable by marginalizing its egregiously anti-Semitic founder—who happens to be her father—is running for France’s presidency. The first round of the election is in April; she’s currently leading polls but is considered unlikely to win the subsequent two-way runoff election in May after the supporters of candidates defeated in the first round consolidate around her opponent. She’s also currently involved in a controversy for having once said the sight of Muslims praying in French streets reminded her of the Nazi occupation.