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Le Pen defended Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President-elect Donald Trump, who beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in November’s elections, telling reporters in Paris that neither leader posed a threat to France.
“I don’t think there is any serious proof behind these allegations of cyber-attacks. We should only consider real revelations. In any case, we can’t say that it was [Moscow] that was behind this cyber-attack,” Le Pen told a press conference with the Anglo-American Press Association.
She did not offer additional explanation or details to contradict the findings of investigations by US intelligence agencies into the election cyber-attacks, which have been the subject of much controversy across the Atlantic.
On Thursday, US spy chief James Clapper told lawmakers he was confident Russia hacked Democratic Party and campaign staff emails, and disseminated propaganda and fake news, during the 2016 election campaign. He pledged to make some intelligence agency findings public next week.
Le Pen said she was unconcerned about Russian officials possibly using cyber-attacks to interfere in France’s own upcoming presidential poll, in which she is running as the candidate for the anti-immigration, anti-EU National Front party.
She said it was more likely US officials and the media were blaming Russia for hacking in the US as an excuse for Clinton’s election failure.
“[Clinton] was the darling of the system, the darling of the media, the darling of the global political class. Well, they must now find an explanation [for why she lost]. So a lot of people have decided it was the Russians. It’s an old reflex, but it doesn’t make sense, it’s insignificant,” Le Pen said, echoing past statements by Trump about the cyber-attacks.
Opinion polls show the far-right politician is on course to reach the second round of France’s presidential election on May 7, but also that she would lose that run-off to the mainstream conservative candidate, François Fillon.
Both Le Pen and Fillon, who served as France’s prime minister under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, have expressed favorable views about Putin’s administration in the past.
Trump ‘good’ for France
Asked about her views on Trump, who will be sworn in as president on January 20 in Washington, Le Pen said she was indifferent about his domestic goals and that she believed the Republican’s foreign policy would be “good” for France.
“I said that I supported Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy because it seems to me that his international policies are good for France. The only question that interests me is will Donald Trump’s international policies hurt France? So far that is not the case, quite the contrary,” she noted.
“He is against TAFTA, and I am delighted because it’s very bad for France,” she said in reference to faltering negotiations to establish a free-trade zone covering Europe and North America. Le Pen claimed that Trump was also less inclined than his predecessors to deploy troops around the world, a position she approved of.
“It’s the same question I ask myself about Mr. Putin,” the French politician said, “Is Putin making decisions that weaken France or that go against French interests? So far, no, so why should I be against him?”
Too cozy with the Kremlin?
Le Pen said that if elected president she would help raise France’s standing among world powers.
“I don’t want to be submissive to the United States, which was the case in the past and continues to be the case because Nicolas Sarkozy returned France to NATO’s military command. I don’t want to be submissive to Russia either,” she said.
The National Front’s dealings with Russia have nevertheless raised suspicion in recent months and years. It’s the only French party to have hailed Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. It regularly praises Putin as a like-minded “patriot” and a bulwark for traditional European values.
More recently, it has been forced to answer questions about a €9 million loan from the now defunct Russian lender First Czech-Russian Bank (FCRB).
On Friday she once again dismissed suggestions of cozy ties with Moscow, saying the real danger lay elsewhere.
“I want there to be a respectful dialogue, a peaceful dialogue between big countries, and I would like to see the emergence of an alliance between the United States, France and Russia to fight against Islamic fundamentalism, because it is a danger that weighs heavily on our respective democracies.”