(CNSNews.com) – Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen is threatening to sue for libel after several lawmakers here called for a parliamentary inquiry to investigate links between her National Rally (NR) party and Steve Bannon, the estranged former advisor to President Trump.
The row followed a France 2 television program last week which showed footage of Bannon meeting at a London hotel late last year with two senior NR members, including party vice president – and Le Pen’s partner – Louis Aliot.
The two Frenchmen proposed that Bannon attend regular meetings between Le Pen and several senior French civil servants. Their names were not disclosed, the program said, because they are close to the government.
France 2 aired previously unseen footage from Alison Klayman, an American documentary maker who is making a film about Bannon.
In another sequence taken from the same meeting in London, the two NR politicians spoke to Bannon about the financial needs of their party.
After the program aired, Frédéric Lefebvre, a former cabinet minister and president of the center-right Agir party, called on parliament to investigate links between Bannon and the NR in the run-up to the May 26 European Parliament elections. French law forbids foreigners to intervene in elections or to fund parties.
In an open letter to parliamentary committees, Lefebvre said a commission of inquiry should be established to investigate the NR for colluding with a foreign power. He also noted that Bannon has been openly campaigning against the European Union.
Several other lawmakers from across the political spectrum, including a representative of President Emmanuel Macron’s Republic in Motion movement, backed Lefebvre's call for an inquiry.
The footage showed the two NR officials discussing party finances and Bannon suggesting they create a foundation to raise money. The three men then asked reporters to leave the room.
When Bannon was interviewed alone later in the program he said he had given the French politicians advice on how to finance a party, but that he would not help them to raise funds.
Le Pen, speaking to the French news network BFM TV, rejected the complaints, calling them “an electoral maneuver of a movement that is losing first place in the opinion polls.” The latest polls for the European Parliament elections put Macron’s party and the NR neck-and-neck, with around 22 percent each.
Le Pen confirmed that Bannon had given good advice about raising funds but had not himself organized funding.
“There is nothing else to say”, she said. “The entire campaign is financed from a loan launched early April by the party in France, and all the money comes from French people.”
She confirmed plans to file in the coming days a complaint of libel and slanderous denunciation against Lefebvre and two other lawmakers. “We cannot suspect that the first party of France commits such crimes.”
Among the other lawmakers pushing for a probe, Republic in Motion lawmaker Jean-Michel Mis said it was necessary to investigate what “looks like an international conspiracy against the interests of France.”
Socialist Sen. Rachid Temal called for an inquiry “to check the possible link with a foreign country for the elections, which is a crime in France.”
Bannon has been traveling in Europe in support of populist parties across the continent.
He addressed a NR party congress in March last year, although Le Pen later in the year sounded a cautious note about his efforts, saying that only Europeans can “save” Europe.
Last December Bannon and Le Pen shared a platform in Brussels campaigning with a far-right Flemish party against the U.N.’s “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”