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Rebekah Mercer and the powerful Mercer family have become forces to reckon with in the background of Republican politics and are considered instrumental players in the election of President Donald Trump.
Rebekah Mercer, one of hedge fund financier Robert Mercer’s three daughters with his wife, Diana, was thrust into the controversy surrounding the new Michael Wolff book on Donald Trump. Called “Fire and Fury,” it presents a series of incendiary allegations against the president, mostly in the form of negative comments that people close to him supposedly made to the author. Among them: The President’s former adviser, Steve Bannon, who was plucked by the president from the conservative Breitbart website, which the Mercers back.
Rebekah Mercer, normally a private person who shies away from public exposure, split with Bannon in the wake of the controversy. She’s an interesting, albeit controversial, person in her own right; among other ventures, she runs a cookie company.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rebekah Mercer Has Been Called the ‘First Lady of the Alt Right’
The Mercer family were key financiers of Donald Trump’s presidential victory. According to The Washington Post, “the Mercers have given at least $36.6 million to GOP candidates and super PACs since 2010.” Rebekah Mercer was tapped for the president’s transition team.
Rebekah Mercer has also emerged as a powerful force in right-wing politics. The Post says she’s been labeled “the First Lady of the alt-right.” According to the Washington Post, Rebekah Mercer prefers to stay on the sidelines and rarely speaks in public.
Robert Mercer, Rebekah’s father, made his billions in hedge funds. “Politically conservative, Mercer has become one of the Republican party’s biggest contributors, spending $25 million in the 2016 campaign and backing Trump,” Forbes Magazine has reported. He is listed as age 71, self-made, married with three children, and living in Mount Sinai, New York.
Rebekah Mercer has stepped out of her father’s shadow, though. As The Washington Post reported, “the middle daughter of billionaire hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer has rattled the status quo by directing her family’s resources into an array of investments on the right.” The newspaper described her as criticizing Mitt Romney’s presidential organization and leading a SuperPac that initially supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president. After Donald Trump won the primary, the Mercers threw their support to him; The Post notes that Kellyanne Conway, the controversial Trump adviser, was a Mercer-backed pollster before joining his campaign.
2. A Phone Call From Trump Reportedly Caused Rebekah Mercer to Ditch Bannon
According to The Daily Beast, Rebekah Mercer has taken a side in the Trump/Bannon dust-up and has chosen Trump. That decision came after a phone call between Rebekah Mercer and Trump, the site reported, although it didn’t name its source.
“During the conversation, which took place Thursday afternoon and was relayed to The Daily Beast by a senior White House official, Mercer and Trump addressed Bannon’s scorched-earth comments that appear in Michael Wolff’s new book on the Trump White House, and the donor reaffirmed her support for Trump’s presidency and his agenda,” The Daily Beast reported.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Rebekah Mercer stood by Trump: “I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” Mercer said. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”
3. The Mercer Family Co-Owns Breitbart & Rebekah Mercer Is Alleged to Have Said Immigration Was Tearing Apart Europe
In February 2017, Breitbart’s CEO Larry Solov confirmed that the Mercer family was co-owners of Breitbart. “The company’s owners are himself, Susie Breitbart (the widow of founder Andrew Breitbart) and the Mercer family,” Buzzfeed reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Mercer family “bought nearly 50% of Breitbart News for $10 million in 2011.”
When Bannon was on a venture to start a Breitbart-style effort in India, Rebekah Mercer was at his side interviewing prospective editors, according to a March 2017 article in The Daily Beast, The man they were interviewing told Daily Beast that Mercer (without naming her) had tried to convince him “that she was ‘actually’ a libertarian, as well, before launching into ‘diatribes’ against same-sex marriage and ‘immigrants in America, and how the cultural fabric of Europe was being torn apart by their immigrants,’” the site reported.
Robert Mercer sold his stake in Breitbart to Rebekah and his other daughter.
4. Rebekah Mercer’s Father’s Wealth Is In Dispute But It’s Minimally Close to a Billion DollarsDownload Video Links
Rebekah Mercer’s wealth derives from her father, who ran a hedge fund called Renaissance Technologies. Town and Country reports that it’s hard to estimate Mercer’s wealth and, although it’s high, he might not be quite a billionaire.
According to Forbes Magazine, Robert Mercer is a “Former IBM language recognition specialist” who “joined Renaissance Technologies in 1993. Took over as co-CEO of the successful quantitative hedge fund firm in 2011 when Renaissance founder James Simons retired.”
Robert Mercer is a libertarian who detests the Republican establishment, according to a profile in The New Yorker. He was also described as being prone to believing Clinton conspiracy theories and heatedly denying being a white supremacist. According to the New Yorker, Rebekah Mercer urged the ultimately failed appointment of Michael Flynn as Trump’s national security advisor.
Although some sites say Rebekah Mercer dabbled in Hollywood in the 1990s, it appears that the actress who played Terreis in Xena: Warrior Princess in 1995 is a different Rebekah Mercer, despite their shared red hair and name. Credible biographies of her do not make this claim.
According to Town and Country Magazine, “The Mercers weren’t always this rich. Rebekah, known as Bekah to friends, grew up in Yorktown, Westchester, with older sister Jenji and younger sibling Heather Sue. At the time, Robert worked at IBM.” After Robert struck wealth in hedge funds, he and his wife, Diana, moved into a palatial Long Island mansion called “The Owl’s Nest,” the magazine reports.
5. Rebekah Mercer Home Schools Her Children & Runs an Online Cookie Company
Rebekah Mercer’s biography is interesting in its own right. The Washington Post described her in 2016 as a 42-year-old “former Wall Street Trader” and reported that “Mercer home-schools her four children and runs an online gourmet cookie company with her sisters.”
According to her LinkedIn page, She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University for studying biology, mathematics, and operations research. She also attended Cornell University for three years. The page says she’s co-owner of Ruby et Violette, a position she’s held for 12 years. Town and Country says that Ruby et Violette was originally a bakery in Hell’s Kitchen that was rescued by the Mercer sisters when it was about to close and now does deliveries only.
The story adds: “She and her family live in a sprawling triplex in a Trump-branded residential building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.” She is married to Sylvain Mirochnikoff. In March 2017, The New Yorker reported that Mercer and her husband were divorcing, writing, “In 2003, she married a Frenchman, Sylvain Mirochnikoff, who is a managing director of Morgan Stanley. They had four children and bought a twenty-eight-million-dollar property—six apartments joined together—at Trump Place, on the Upper West Side. Now forty-three, she is divorcing Mirochnikoff.”