Exclusive: Long-Time Trump Confidant George Lombardi Has Been Misleading With His Story

The Italian-American was Donald Trump’s connection to Europe’s far-right leaders close to Putin.

George “Guido” Lombardi is a decades-long friend and adviser to Donald Trump. He has lived on the 63rd floor (three floors below Trump) of Trump Tower for years, and is a member of Mar-a-Lago. His proximity to Trump cannot be denied, as he was privy to the deliberations before FBI Director James Comey was fired. Lombardi spent the 2016 campaign as an under-the-radar figure, cultivating relationships with European leaders financially tied to the Kremlin.

The Italian-American wore many hats throughout the Presidential campaign; Coordinating with Sam Clovis on his social media operation, meeting with numerous far-right European leaders, and completing many other tasks.

Lombardi stayed on the Trump team as an unsanctioned representative in order to, in his own words, “take care of all the crazies…There is no official connection so [no] liability.” He curated over 500 social media pages, mostly on Facebook which were run by a large number of volunteers. At least one of the pages that Lombardi created has been taken down by Facebook for unknown reasons. The Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, is investigating if anyone in Trump’s orbit was in contact with Russian officials as part of Putin’s social media disinformation campaign. Facebook and Mueller’s spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment.

The shadowy, semi-official adviser has been misleading about various aspects of his story. Speaking to Politico in December, 2016 Lombardi claimed he was in his early sixties. Speaking to the New York Times four months later, he said he was 66. Numerous public records show that Mr. Lombardi is 76, born in 1941. All of the addresses and relatives on the public record websites are a match, confirming that this is the correct George Lombardi. The websites even list his alias of “Guido”. In the New York Times article, and other US media profiles of Lombardi, he claimed he left Italy in the early 1970s. In an Italian article, he claimed he left Italy in 1981. In other interviews, he has changed his emigration timeline to the 1970s.

On Lombardi’s Wikipedia page, there was an edit made on July 7, 2017 to change the phrase “born 1950s” to “born 1960s”. Neither of these match the public records, but if he were born in the early 1950s, his age would match the account he gave to Politico. The edit made by this userwas the only edit they have ever made on Wikipedia.

The edit was made by a person with the IP address 93.46.186.83, which tracks to Milan, Italy. On July 6, 2017, George Lombardi posted a picture of the newspaper Il Giornale, which publishes in Milan. Lombardi did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Lombardi’s connections to far-right political parties in Europe put him one degree of separation away from Vladimir Putin’s bankroll. During the course of the campaign, Lombardi met with French politician Marine Le Pen in Trump Tower, Matteo Salvini of Italy, and Heinz-Christian Strache of Austria.

France

Lombardi and Le Pen in Trump Tower, January, 2017

Le Pen’s connections to the Kremlin are the most direct and straight-forward out of the group. In 2015, hacked text messages were released by Anonymous International that showed continual discussion between Russian-French Kremlin propagandist Konstantin Rykov and Putin adviser Timur Prokopenko — the head of the Russian domestic affairs department. The two men discuss a quid-pro-quo between Le Pen and the Kremlin. Le Pen was to recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea as legitimate in exchange for Russian money in the form of large loans. Le Pen denies knowing Rykov or Prokopenko and maintains her innocence despite the fact that she recognized Crimea, and then subsequently received over 40 million euros in loans from Moscow’s First Czech-Russian Bank.

Le Pen has traveled to Russia numerous times. She met with Putin for a one-on-one meeting during her most recent trip, and called for the end of Russian sanctions.

Lombardi has known Le Pen for over 20 years, and hosted a party for her in Trump Tower in January. At the party, according to Lombardi, there were “American businessmen… representatives from Wall Street, Israeli businessmen, [and] a couple of Russian businessmen.” He declined to give any names.

Italy

Trump and Salvini, April, 2016

In 2015, Salvini’s press secretary told a Russian news publication that Salvini flies to Russia monthly to meet with Russian leaders and occasionally Putin. According to an Italian publication, “Putin had asked Salvini and Marine Le Pen to form a pro-Russian group within the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and in return, he would send substantial investments via a bank in the Czech Republic.”

Salvini regularly meets with Andrei Klimov, a Russian politician and member of the Katehon think tank. Salvini also hosted a conference with “Putin’s favorite philosopher” and adviser, Aleksander Dugin.

In April 2016, Salvini had a 20 minute working-meeting with then-candidate Trump in Pennsylvania in which Trump told Salvini, “I hope you become the next Prime Minister soon.” Bizarrely, Trump at first denied that he ever met the Italian leader; however when confronted with the pictures, Trump said “I didn’t want to meet him.” Salvini reportedly went on to Washington, D.C., to meet with other unknown members of the Trump campaign.

One of Lombardi’s friends in Italy is political consultant Alessandro Bertoldi, a former local political partner of President Berlusconi.

Lombardi and Bertoldi, April, 2017

Bertoldi has interacted with Konstantin Rykov, the man who claimed he worked with WikiLeaks, hackers, and Cambridge Analytica to help Donald Trump:

When asked for comment about his relationship with Konstantin Rykov, Bertoldi said, “I don’t know Rykov, who is [he]?” When shown evidence of their communication, Bertoldi admitted, “Ok yes, I know his site. Only his web site!”

A local Italian publication reported that Lombardi met with Bertoldi in June, 2017, and that Bertoldi will be organizing a Trump event in Mar-a-Lago. Bertoldi denied that he has ever worked for a Trump event and added, “theories of Russian influence on US elections and his relations with Russians are weak and ridiculous.” Bertoldi was one of a small group of Italian politicians to travel to Ukraine in 2015 to support the Russian separatists, and to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

Bertoldi and Lombardi — especially Lombari — are close to former Italian President Berlusconi. Berlusconi retains notoriety for his close ties to Putin. During his presidency, he received personal payments by Putin for his friendly positions towards Russia. Putin gave Berlusconi “lavish gifts” and Americans considered him to be the Kremlin’s mouthpiece in Europe. In 2013, Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud. Putin and Berlusconi remain close friends, including holding official bilateral meetings.

George Lombardi has been friends with Berlusconi for years. Lombardi’s website states that he, “has served as the official representative of Italy’s Lega Nord party (Northern League) to the United States. The Lega Nord is the second half of Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling coalition of Italy. Lombardi still travels to Italy to consult on Italian politics & economics for Berlusconi.”

Austria

Heinz-Christian Strache, left, and Trump, right

Just before Trump’s inauguration in January, Austrian far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache met with National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. A month prior, Strache signed an agreement of cooperation with Putin’s party. Strache was also in attendance at a party thrown by Lombardi in Trump Tower on election night. Referring to Strache’s political party, Lombardi said, “I’m in regular touch with some of them if not all of them.”


These European connections to those close to Putin are hard to follow. To make the task less daunting, I created a flowchart:

It is unclear why Lombardi, a man with virtually no social media experience, would be tasked with organizing part of the Trump media strategy, or why he has been deceptive about his background. He has told the Italian and American press different stories about his age, date of emigration and other details such as the year he met Donald Trump. His public statements are contradictory at best, begging the question as to why he would be so deceitful.


Contact the Writer: @ScottMStedman

Contact the Editor: Nathaniel de Gala

Janice Harper contributed to this article

Pierpaolo De Caro and Ona Tuttle helped with translations