The leader of the French National Front Marine Le Pen, who according to a recent poll, has regained the lead in the first round vote of this year's French presidential election as the momentum of her main challenger Fillon has fizzled, is in New York on an unannounced visit less than four months before the election, according to a senior campaign official cited by Bloomberg. "Le Pen, who leads in the latest opinion poll for the presidency, is making a private visit to New York, her campaign chief of staff, David Rachline, said in a text-message exchange. He declined to say if she would meet publicly with President-elect Donald Trump or anyone from his entourage."
“It’s not on her public agenda,” Rachline said, when asked if she planned a meeting with Trump or officials close to him. “We don’t communicate about private visits.”
While it was not confirmed that Le Pen, who is set to launch her official campaign on Feb. 4 in a meeting with supporters in the French city of Lyon, will meet with Trump it is likely. She has repeatedly said she was supportive of 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.
What would the motive behind such a meeting be? Besides the usual pleasntries, it is possible that Le Pen will seek a loan from the US president-elect. Recall that as reported last month, "the National Front leader is struggling to raise the €20 million ($21 million) she needs to fund the French presidential and legislative campaigns in 2017 after the party’s Russian lender failed."
This past July, the Central Bank of Russia revoked the license of the National Front’s Moscow-based lender First Czech Russian Bank OOO and Le Pen's party has still to find another backer, according to treasurer Wallerand de Saint Just. Saint Just said he’s seeking international financiers in countries including Russia because French banks have refused to fund his party.
In a phone interview with Bloomberg, Saint Just said that “the loss of the FCRB was a hard blow for us" adding that “the Russia loan was a stable resource. Now we are still searching for loans.”
That said, the optics of Trump funding a frontrunng for the French presidency would be even worse than Le Pen appealing to Putin for more cash. Which is precisely why Trump may end up doing it.