One particular visitor to Trump Tower caused quite a stir on Thursday.
In the morning, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen was spotted drinking coffee in the lobby of the building. The leader of France’s right-wing extremist party was with three other men, including Guido (George) Lombardi. To the reporters on-site, Lombardi described himself as a friend and neighbor of Trump—and nothing more. This was not an official rendezvous, Lombardi assured them. Just a chit-chat between like-minded people.
In a phone interview on Thursday night with The Daily Beast, however, Lombardi told a different story. He said he let incoming White House senior counselor Steve Bannon know about the visit before it happened.
“He said, ‘Oh great, don’t worry about it,’” Lombardi told The Daily Beast, referring to Bannon. When pressed further, Lombardi said, “[Bannon] said more but I can’t tell you what he said. Let’s just say it was positive.”
Additionally, Lombardi claimed that he mentioned a prospective meeting to Trump recently, telling him: “If you want to meet her [Le Pen], you can say something.” Lombardi claimed that Trump told him to let him know if she ever came to the United States.
It turns out Lombardi is more than just a resident of Trump Tower and a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. He is also named as the co-founder of Citizens for Trump on the group’s website.
In December, Lombardi described himself to Politico as a liaison between Trump and far-right parties in Europe.
“I’m in contact with just about everybody,” he told Politico. In that same article, the National Front’s American representative, Denis Franceskin, said that Lombardi was a “go-between.” “He is part of the [Trump] network.”
Franceskin said it was only a matter of time until Le Pen would get her audience with the next president of the United States.
“Have patience,” he coyly told Politico.
In his Thursday interview, Lombardi said that “by coincidence” Le Pen was taking a few days off before her presidential campaign and called him to say that she was coming to New York.
“We did not reach out to the Trump campaign,” he told reporters Thursday afternoon. “We did not reach out to Mr. Trump, even though he’s a friend of mine. But I know very well his policy about not meeting foreign leaders and he had this policy all throughout his campaign.”
Lombardi told The Daily Beast that he offered to have a party for Le Pen in Trump Tower on Wednesday evening.
“We organized a little drink,” he said. “There were about 35 people. International guys. Some that live in the building, some that came from outside. A couple people that came from the United Nations. They wanted to support her candidacy. We had a few drinks and spent a couple of hours together.”
He claims that neither Trump nor Bannon were in attendance.
A representative from Trump’s transition team did not respond to a question from The Daily Beast. Incoming press secretary Sean Spicer balked when asked about Le Pen’s presence in the building earlier in the day, simply saying, “It’s a public building.”
But it’s not as if the connections between Le Pen and Trump are subtle.
When speaking with reporters in Trump Tower on Thursday, Lombardi described her as the “French Trump” and called her visit to the United States “the Normandy Landing.”
“Basically, Europe, France especially, but also other countries, Italy and so on, there is a big battle going on there, we call our populist very similar to Trump,” Lombardi said. “The French Trump. She’s been defending Mr. Trump since day one, since the very beginning of the campaign, even before he got nominated and then after the victory of course, and you can see her declaration going back a year, a year and a half in favor of Mr. Trump.”
According to Lombardi, Le Pen’s next stop is Washington, D.C., on Friday where she will allegedly meet with Iowa Congressman Steve King. (In October, he visited her in France as well.)
What’s more is that in November, Le Pen’s niece Marion claimed Bannon had expressed interest in them working together.
“Marion Marechal-Le Pen is the new rising star,” Bannon reportedly told French media at the time. When he was heading up the pro-Trump conservative website Breitbart, there was often glowing coverage of far-right parties in Europe including the United Kingdom Independence Party and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. The site has also expressed interest in expanding operations globally.
Lombardi, for his part, said he had been helping his neighbor’s run for the White House for a year and a half. He told The Daily Beast that he had created a number of websites to support Trump and assist in amplifying his message online.
“I did help a little bit with the campaign, social media,” he said. “I told [Trump] I can’t work in the campaign. I’ll help you out with the social media.
“The biggest one on Facebook is something called Citizens for Trump,” Lombardi added.
He also has met frequently with Bannon, Trump’s campaign chief and senior aide. Lombardi told The Daily Beast that the two of them have met “maybe a half a dozen times between August and now.”
Lombardi said he has seen Trump fairly often, too—at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.
Trump even swung by an event at Mar-a-Lago with Lombardi and said about him and his wife, “They’ve been my friends for a long time. They live in Trump Tower. We love them. They’re members of the Mar-a-Lago Club… I just want to acknowledge how good these two people are.”
Lombardi uploaded a video where the exchange can be seen:
While Le Pen is visiting the United States, Lombardi made one thing clear: A Trump win is a good sign for her.
“Now we got Donald elected, we got to elect the French Trump,” Lombardi told The Daily Beast.
“The French Trump is Marine.”