Verrrrry curious, especially with Bannon gearing up to shovel Mercer money at a raft of populist primary challengers next spring. Is that still happening? If Robert’s daughter, Rebekah Mercer, is still gung ho then presumably it is.
To be clear, Mercer’s putting much more distance between himself and Yiannopoulos than he is between himself and Bannon. Still, a remarkable turn given how successful the Mercer/Bannon relationship has been. How many bigshot donors can say that their money funded an online political juggernaut and then was parlayed into getting a longshot candidate elected president?
Wow, incredible statement from Bob Mercer — on Bannon, Milo, Breitbart: pic.twitter.com/6oSPpYlB7o
— Joshua Green (@JoshuaGreen) November 2, 2017
That’s from a surprise resignation letter he sent to staff at his hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies. He’s out of the investment business, out of the Breitbart business, and out of the Milo business in one fell swoop. Huh. What gives?
Could he have been forced out at Renaissance? Here’s an interesting tweet:
Ive heard from sources of significant anger within Renaissance about Mercer. This is likely aimed at mitigating that https://t.co/BvPQXSNQAk
— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) November 2, 2017
Joe Bernstein is no random media person in this case. He wrote the BuzzFeed piece published on October 5, “Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream.” Somehow Bernstein got hold of some of Yiannopoulos’s private correspondence, which included, among other things, email exchanges with white nationalist figures advising him on a long piece he wrote for Breitbart about the alt-right. The Mercers figured prominently in the piece as patrons of Breitbart and Milo. It’s possible that the piece caused such discomfort within RenTech that Mercer felt he had no choice but to leave. That would explain the otherwise apparently gratuitous references to Bannon and Yiannopoulos in a letter to employees of a wholly unrelated firm. He may have come under such intense heat inside the hedge fund for his Breitbart connections that he felt obliged to say something about them in parting.
A rosier possibility for Mercer: Maybe he’s in line for a government position. He’s a friend and chief patron of the president’s; at a minimum there’s an ambassadorship waiting for him somewhere, assuming he can get past Senate confirmation given his Breitbart ties. Trump could solve that problem by making him a White House advisor in the mold of Gary Cohn instead, which doesn’t require confirmation. (In fact, given Cohn’s likely departure from the administration once tax reform is resolved one way or another, maybe Mercer’s being positioned to replace him as chief of the National Economic Council.) That would also explain the gratuitous disclaimers in today’s resignation letter about Bannon and Yiannopoulos. Mercer may anticipate being in the public eye soon as a presidential advisor and being grilled by reporters on his associations with them, so he’s getting a jump on the damage control effort. Tim Miller translates Mercer’s spin on Milo this way: “I’m shocked and appalled that the race-baiting ‘dangerous faggot’ tour I funded did not promote couth and honest dialogue.” Think the media will buy it?
But there’s a third possibility. Maybe there’s a scandal coming which Mercer knows will soon be public and he’s going to ground before it breaks. It could be a scandal involving him or one involving Bannon, Breitbart, Yiannopoulos, or some combination thereof. Although if something bad was in the pipeline regarding the latter group, wouldn’t the entire Mercer family be looking to divest in order to protect themselves? As things stand, Rebekah Mercer will have even more control over Breitbart going forward than she did before. Logically, *if* there’s a scandal coming involving the site or its personnel, she wouldn’t want to be in that position.
Whatever the answer, it’s my pleasure to welcome newly minted anti-populist Robert Mercer into Salon Conservatives Club, where our motto is “Keep cuckin’.” Hello, Bob! Can we have some money?