Le Pen, who polls show could make it to the final round of the French presidential election in May, broke off from a busy campaign schedule to fly unannounced to New York for what her party said was a “private visit”. Party officials refused to comment on whether or not she might meet Trump.
Le Pen was spotted with Louis Aliot, who is one of her party vice-presidents as well as her partner. They were having coffee with two others in the basement of Trump Tower at around 11am on Thursday. Asked by White House pool reporters whether she was there to meet Trump and whether she was there in a professional or personal capacity, she declined to answer.
Later, another of her companians, Guido “George” Lombardi, an Italian businessman who is reportedly a neighbor of Trump in Trump Tower and has described himself as a former representative of Italy’s Lega Nord party, told the press Le Pen was there for “a perfectly privately encounter that she had with some friends of ours … She just happened to be here because I happen to live here.”
He added: “We did not reach out to the Trump campaign. We did not reach out to Mr Trump, even though he’s a friend of mine.”
But he confirmed that Le Pen had been using the trip to meet potential fundraisers.
She still needs to raise several million euros for her campaign, and has been looking for foreign banks who might be willing to lend to her, including US banks.