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Story highlights

The story of Jim has become one of the more unique staples of Trump's political career

It is a story he used to knock more liberal French policies on immigration and terrorism

CNN —  

When Donald Trump appeared before a conservative audience in Maryland earlier this year, he put significant stock in his friend “Jim’s” opinion of Paris.

On Thursday in the City of Light, Trump signaled he was no longer listening to the unknown traveler.

The story of Jim has become one of the more unique staples of Trump’s political career, a story he used to knock more liberal French policies on immigration and terrorism, while building up his own plan of stemming the number of refugees entering the US and implementing a travel ban against people from six-Muslim majority countries.

“We fully understand that national security begins with border security,” Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February before launching into the story of Jim. “Take a look at what’s happened in France. Take a look at Nice and Paris.”

Trump went on to describe Jim as a Francophile who had soured on Paris after years of visiting every summer with his family.

“I have a friend, he’s a very, very substantial guy. He loves the City of Lights. He loves Paris. For years, every year, during the summer, he would go to Paris, it was automatic, with his wife and his family,” Trump said.

Recalling a conversation he had with Jim years ago, Trump added, “I hadn’t seen him in a while. And I said, ‘Jim, let me ask you a question: How’s Paris doing,” Trump recalled. “Paris? I don’t go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.”

He finished the thought with a plea to “keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.”

CNN was unable to reach Jim and the White House did not respond to requests asking for his last name.

The refrain – “Paris is no longer Paris” – caught the attention of Parisians (including the mayor, who invited Trump and Jim to Paris) and was roundly used to describe Trump’s view that the world is changing and it was up to him to counter the negative shifts.

On Thursday, though, Trump largely disavowed the advice of his friend after a reporter asked him directly about Jim.

“(Paris is) going to be just fine because you have a great president. You have somebody that’s going to run this country right,” Trump said, standing next to French President Emmanuel Macron. “I think this is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

Trump took it one step further, too, promising to come back to visit Macron and, ostensibly, Jim.

“I really have a feeling that you’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris,” Trump said. “And I’m coming back.”

Turning to the French President, who at times smiled during the answer, Trump said, “You better do a good job, please, otherwise you’re going to make me look very bad.”

In English and with a smile, Macron responded, “You’re always welcome.”