Trump Says Paris Attack Will Shake French Election

Armed French police patrol the Champs Elysees Avenue the day after a policeman was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting incident in Paris

US President Donald Trump waded into France’s presidential election on Friday, saying that he expected the deadly attack in Paris would have an impact on France’s upcoming presidential vote.

“Another terrorist attack in Paris. The people of France will not take much more of this. Will have a big effect on presidential election!” he said, breaking a silence over Sunday’s vote in a tweet.

Trump tweeted hours after a gunman shot dead a French policeman and wounded two others on the world-famous Champs Elysees Boulevard. ISIS claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting.

The attack rocked France’s presidential race Friday with just days to go before one of the closest races in recent memory.

Bloodshed had long been feared ahead of Sunday’s first round of voting after a string of jihadist atrocities targeting the county. France is in a state of emergency and at its highest possible level of alert since a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed more than 230 people.

Three of the four presidential frontrunners — far-right leader Marine Le Pen, centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon — called off campaign events planned for Friday in the wake of the attack.

The attack prompted Marine Le Pen to say on Friday that France should reinstate border checks and expel foreigners who are on the watch lists of intelligence services.

Le Pen, who has campaigned on an anti-European Union, anti-immigration platform, was the only major French candidate who backed Republican Trump in the Nov. 8 US presidential election.

Trump ran for the White House on a pledge to get tough on immigration and his administration has imposed restrictions including a controversial ban, stalled in US courts, on travelers from Muslim majority nations.

On Thursday, former US President Barack Obama spoke with a different French candidate, Macron, a pro-EU centrist.

Macron is leading most opinion polls for the election’s first round on Sunday and is expected to contest a second-round run-off with Le Pen. Obama’s spokesman said the former US president, who is popular in France, was not making a formal endorsement.

Meanwhile, Macron has called on the French people not to succumb to fear, division and intimidation.

One day after the shootings of police officers in Paris and just two days before the first round of the presidential election, Macron said in a video posted online: “the terrorist’s will is to destabilize the country”.

“In such circumstances, the role of the president of the Republic as the army chief and guardian of our institutions is to protect the French. I am ready,” he said.

Macron recalled a series of security measures listed in his campaign platform: boost police and military forces and intelligence services and pursue France’s military operations against the ISIS group in Iraq and Syria.

Also, Fillon has pledged to keep the country under a state of emergency following the shooting of police officers Thursday in Paris.

In a statement at his campaign headquarters, Fillon said “the fight for the French people’s freedom and security will be mine. This must be the priority” of the next president.

Fillon promised to boost police and military forces.

He also said that, if elected, he would launch a “diplomatic initiative” aiming to create an international collaboration against extremists that would include all major actors, including the United States, the European Union, Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Gulf countries.

Fillon hopes his experience as prime minister from 2007 to 2012 and hardline views on security issues will give his campaign a boost, just two days before the first round of the vote.

French Financial Prosecutor’s Office Evacuated Over Bomb Scare

French gendarmes with a detection dog and police stand in front of the French financial prosecutor's offices following a bomb alert in central Paris, France, March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Around 100 people were briefly evacuated from the French financial prosecutor’s offices in central Paris on Monday due over a bomb alert.

The alert was prompted by an anonymous caller who told police that there was a bomb in the building that houses prosecutors investigating high-level financial crimes, a police source said.

Bomb disposal experts were sent to the site in central Paris, which was cordoned off. The alert was lifted after a police search of the premises that took about 90 minutes.

The bomb scare comes after Saturday’s attack at Orly airport, the city’s second busiest airport, where a man who had been investigated for links to radical Islam was shot dead after assaulting a soldier on patrol and grabbing her rifle.

It was the third in a string of incidents to hit France in recent days.

Last Thursday, a letter bomb sent by a Greek far-left group to the Paris offices of the International Monetary Fund injured a secretary.

That incident came the same day that a 16-year-old pupil opened fire at his school in southern France, wounding four fellow students and a teacher.

The financial prosecutor’s office has been at the center of a number of high-profile cases in recent weeks, including investigations into allegations of financial wrongdoing by leading presidential candidates Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon. It is also investigating the far-right National Front party of Marine Le Pen over alleged fake jobs.

Marine Le Pen’s Aide Charged in ‘Fake Jobs’ Scandal

Le Pen

Paris – French Police arrested two senior assistants of Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate, for a fraud inquiry in the case of EU “fake jobs”, a police source said.

Le Pen was also put under formal investigation in a probe into the alleged misuse of EU money, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

Thierry Legier, who is Le Pen’s bodyguard, and Catherine Griset, her chief of staff, were escorted to the judicial police station in Nanterre, the Paris suburb.

National Front’s (FN) headquarters were raided by police Monday when Le Pen was on a trip abroad as part of the same investigation. The European Parliament and Paris prosecutor’s office are both investigating the case.

Griset and Legier are key figures in an investigation opened following demands by the European Parliament that Le Pen repay money she is accused of wrongly paying the two.

Paris prosecutors have opened a judicial investigation for a variety of corruption charges including breach of trust and organized fraud, all of which carry prison sentences of up to 10 years.

This comes as Francois Fillon, the right-wing Republicans party candidate for the presidency, also faces charges for a fake jobs scandal involving his British-born wife and their two children.

Le Pen contested the allegations and said she was victimized for political reasons. She stressed that the inquiry was an “empty” one, and that she and her FN colleagues were entirely innocent.

“The French can tell the difference between genuine scandals and political dirty-tricks,” Le Pen, told reporters.

Lawyers for Le Pen immediately branded the arrests a media and judicial “conspiracy” aimed at de-railing Le Pen’s campaign.

Despite that, polls on Wednesday put Le Pen in the lead with 26% of the vote in the first round of the French presidential election, ahead of independent Emmanuel Macron and Republican candidate Francois Fillon, each of them getting 19%.

Yet, the polls predict that Le Pen will lose the second round to either of her rivals.

Meanwhile, President of Modem Party (Mouvement Démocrate) François Bayrou offered candidate Emmanuel Macron the formation of an alliance, in a valuable gesture of the former minister. This came as a surprise as many observers thought he would announce his candidacy once again. He had already ran for president three times and came third in 2007.

Speaking at his Modem party headquarters in Paris, Bayrou, 65, said the hour was too grave in France to think of self-interest.

“I have decided to offer Emmanuel Macron an alliance. The danger is too big we must change things,” he said.

Shortly afterwards, Macron confirmed that he had “accepted” the offer describing it as a “turning point in the presidential campaign”.

Poll’s Show France’s Fillon Will Easily Beat Far-Right’s Le Pen

French conservative Francois Fillon will beat the far-right’s Marine Le Pen by a wide margin in next spring’s election for president, a poll by Kantar Sofres Onepoint showed on Tuesday.

Fillon, a former prime minister with radical free-market policies, won the ticket of the Republicans party in a primary contest on Sunday and is widely expected to find himself pitted against National Front leader Le Pen in the second round of the election next May.

On another note, France called for an immediate United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Aleppo and said it would press for a U.N. resolution to punish the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Speaking ahead of a meeting in the Belarusian capital Minsk on the Ukrainian crisis, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Syrian regime forces and their allies would not resolve the Syrian conflict by carrying out one of the “biggest massacres on a civilian population since World War Two.”

“This (Security Council) meeting would have to find a way to deal with the humanitarian situation and see how we can get aid in. We have to find a way,” Ayrault told Reuters.

Previous such meetings have failed to end hostilities.

France, a backer of the anti-Assad opposition, is pushing for a Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Syria for the use of chemical weapons. Ayrault said France and Britain had taken over drafting the resolution from the United States.

An inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has already found that government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks and that Islamic State militants had used mustard gas.

“We are now the penholders. We are not giving up. There have to be sanctions,” Ayrault said before meeting his Russian, German and Ukrainian counterparts.

Ayrault said a meeting in Paris around Dec. 10 of countries opposed to Assad, including the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, would discuss how to find a political solution to the crisis.

François Fillon Raising the Bar, Preparing to Take over French Presidency

Paris- The little-known conservative, dubbed “Mr. Nobody,” François Fillon shocked the French establishment with him likely winning the next center-right nomination and possibly the presidency in the 2017 elections.

The second-round of the Socialist Republican primary will open polls on Sunday, announcing the official nominee later that evening—odds are high in favor of French Prime Minister Fillon, Le Monde’s “Mr. Nobody.”

It would seem that only a miracle can keep Fillon from nomination, given that he already registered a sweeping 44 percent of turnout in the first round-primary, whilst his closest competition Alain Juppé, received 28 percent of Republican votes.

It’s worth noting that the Republican former President Nicolas Sarkozy, had overturned all hopes of a second presidency by exiting the race after not being able to secure enough votes to move for the second-round primary.

Surprisingly, Fillon is now most likely to represent the socialist bloc and possibly become France’s eighth president of the Fifth Republic.

Only a month ago no one would have seen it coming for Fillon, who served as Prime Minister of France from May 17, 2007 to May 16, 2012 after being appointed by Sarkozy, to be at a swooping advantage for becoming France’s next executive head of state.

Fillon fought a fierce political campaign against seven noteworthy center-right candidates such as his former boss Sarkozy, and former premier Juppé, who ex-President Jacques Chirac once labeled as the most witted within the French establishment.

Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire and Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet are also both young and significant names who Fillon had to face off in his electoral campaign.

Perhaps the greatest competition registered among the two was the one led by Morizet, an ambitious woman who is fairly close to millennials and who ran a campaign headlining “defend the environment,” which is a very popular and heated cause for the French.

Fillon shattered all projections, and not only finished among the three final candidates in the primaries, but also had defeated Sarkozy in a historic payback. Sarkozy had once demoted Fillon’s public service and significance, by labeling him his personal assistant.

Fillon’s résumé goes far given that he served as the former prime minister for a United Nations Security Council member state.

Not only was he the ex-prime minister for a major power, but also to the world’s fifth largest economy. The former colonialist power is also home to one of today’s powerful nuclear weapons.

After Fillon’s dramatic advance, many media outlets that once overlooked the candidate have shifted the spotlight as droves of right and center-right politicians hurl to reconcile relations with the potential president.

Fillon’s support goes beyond the French spectrum reaching to superpower leader and controversial authoritarian Vladimir Putin, who personally tapped into Fillon’s presidency campaign endorsing him a few days before the second-round primary.

Putin and Fillon shared posts as state premiers between 2007-2012.

Socially, Fillon, 62, appeals to France’s traditionally conservative Catholic base—his public service goes even further beyond, he became Jean- Pierre Raffarin’s Minister of Labor in 2002 and undertook controversial reforms of the 35-hour working week law and of the French retirement system. Fillon became Minister of National Education in 2004 and proposed the much debated Fillon law on Education.

Fillon received a Baccalauréat in 1972. He then studied at the University of Maine in Le Mans where he received a Master’s degree in Public Law in 1976. He did additional studies at Paris Descartes University earning the Master of Advanced Studies in Public Law.