June 18, 2019

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. Peter Weber

June 11, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it seems, has little interest in speaking with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Amid criticism of Facebook's decision to leave up a manipulated video of a Pelosi speech that was slowed down to make her appear drunk, Zuckerberg reached out to the top Democrat to discuss the company's handling of misinformation, The Washington Post reports. But Pelosi has not returned his call or replied personally at all.

Some members of Pelosi's staff have been in touch, the Post goes on to report, but Pelosi herself evidently "has not been eager to hear Zuckerberg's explanation for the company's actions."

Facebook has defended its decision to leave the Pelosi video up even as YouTube chose to remove it, saying that content doesn't have to be accurate to remain on the platform. The video, however, has been flagged with a fact-check box, and Facebook has also said it has "dramatically reduced" its distribution.

Pelosi has been quite critical of Facebook for not removing the video, saying that the company is "lying to the public" and that its recent actions prove that it is enabling "Russian interference in our election." Brendan Morrow

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