|Ms. Le Pen with Frédéric Chatillon, right, and Axel Loustau, second from right,|
at the start of the National Front’s campaign for local elections in 2013
But descriptions of the inner workings of her party by present and former close Le Pen associates, as well as court documents, raise fresh doubts about the success and sincerity of those efforts.
Even before Ms. Le Pen’s remarks this week denying France’s culpability in a notorious wartime roundup of Jews, recent revelations in the French news media, including a well-documented new book, revived nagging concerns about the sympathies of the woman who would be France’s next president.
Two men in her innermost circle — Frédéric Chatillon and Axel Loustau — are well-known former members of a violent, far-right student union that fought pitched battles with leftists and took a turn toward Hitler nostalgia in the mid-1990s.
They have been associates of Ms. Le Pen since her days in law school in the 1980s and remain among her closest friends, according to numerous accounts. (more...)