Speed Reads

ghosted

Trump has reportedly lost one of his biggest 2016 financial backers

The reclusive Mercer family was one of President Trump's biggest and most influential backers in 2016, pouring at least $15.5 million into different organizations working to elect Trump, pumping another $10 million into Trump-friendly media company Breitbart News, and investing millions more into Cambridge Analytica, the now-disbanded Facebook-mining data firm Robert Mercer cofounded in 2013. Their influence was so great with Trump they installed Steven Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to run his campaign in its final months, Rebekah Mercer was a senior member of Trump's presidential transition team, and the family donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund.

The 2020 election cycle? "Crickets," a prominent Republican strategist tells Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman. "They're gone."

In fact, the Mercers have drastically cut back their political spending in recent months and don't plan on playing a significant role in 2020, Sherman reports, citing half a dozen sources. The reported reasons include disagreement with Trump's job performance and fallout from their support of Trump and Bannon — their cherished privacy was eroded, Robert Mercer was pushed out as co-CEO of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies in November 2017, they were "spooked" by the FBI's investigation of Cambridge Analytica, and generally, "they've been destroyed," a former West Wing official told Vanity Fair.

Plus, the Mercers essentially got what they wanted out of Trump's victory, and it wasn't necessarily President Trump. "They never really liked Trump," a source close to the Mercers told Sherman. They were supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and they only came around to Trump when he was the last option against Hillary Clinton. "Trump was just Bob's play against Hillary," a former Renaissance executive told Sherman. "Bob said she and her husband were murderers who would destroy the country. He thought she was an evil person and a socialist." The Mercers did not respond to Vanity Fair's request for comment.