In case you missed it, Michael Wolff’s explosive new book about the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency included a number of instances in which Steve Bannon openly trashes the children of the man he put in the White House. Knowing what we know about Trump, it should come as no surprise that Trump has openly and loudly broken with Bannon.
But Bannon could have survived losing Trump’s support. However, those quotes may have cost him the support of the right-wing billionaires who have funded Bannon’s fearsome image.
Bannon is quoted in Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury,” as saying that Donald Trump Jr. may have committed a treasonous act by meeting with Russians in Trump Tower, and also called Ivanka “dumb as a brick.” On Wednesday, Trump issued a burning statement suggesting that Bannon “has nothing to do with me or my presidency.” In an apparent jab at suggestions raised in the book that Trump isn’t stable, Trump suggested that Bannon was the one who “lost his mind.”
Trump has also taken to slamming Bannon on Twitter, calling him “Sloppy Steve.”
I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2018
As brutal as that was, an even more damaging blow may have been struck just 24 hours later. The Mercer family, the secretive Republican megadonors who have bankrolled Bannon’s projects, cut all ties with him. The family’s patriarch, hedge funder and computer scientist Robert Mercer, had already cut ties with Bannon in November, saying that Bannon’s political priorities don’t always align with his. He sold his stake in Breitbart News to his daughter, Rebekah, who has made most of the family’s donations for some time.
However, in a statement, Rebekah announced that she and her family have “provided no financial support” for Bannon’s recent political forays, “nor do we support his recent actions and statements.” Indeed, Mercer said that neither she nor her family had even spoken to Bannon in several months. She also stated in no uncertain terms that she supported Trump “and the platform upon which he was elected.” She not only cut all political ties with Breitbart, but yanked funding for Bannon’s security detail. However, she reiterated her support for Breitbart.
This development had Trump skipping and dancing.
The Mercer Family recently dumped the leaker known as Sloppy Steve Bannon. Smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2018
Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad! https://t.co/mEeUhk5ZV9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
It is literally impossible to overstate how significant this is. The Mercers are the second-largest shareholders in Breitbart, behind the family of founder and namesake Andrew Breitbart. The ties between Breitbart and other Mercer-funded interests have been so close that the conflicts of interest would make Trump blush. In the past, Breitbart frequently promoted a number of reports by the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative think tank funded primarily by the Mercers.
It also churned out a number of articles promoting “Clinton Cash,” a scurrilous book about Hillary Clinton’s supposed corruption written by Breitbart editor-at-large Peter Schweitzer, who also serves as GAI’s president. That book was turned into a feature film by Glittering Steel, a film production company founded by Bannon and the Mercers. These conflicts of interest ultimately derailed Breitbart’s efforts to get congressional press credentials.
According to multiple reports, Mercer isn’t content with merely distancing herself personally from Bannon. She’s reportedly angling to push Bannon out of Breitbart as well. CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that there is a “hard push” to persuade Susie Breitbart, Andrew’s widow, and Breitbart CEO Larry Solov to pull their support from Bannon. ABC News reports that Mercer is seriously considering whether to force a vote on firing Bannon as Breitbart’s chairman–a prospect that has a lot of Breitbart staffers on edge.
This time last year, we were all wringing our hands at how Bannon was president in all but name. Now it looks like Bannon may be on the verge of being marginalized.
Maybe we ought to help him along. Remember, last month, Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow admitted that he believed one of Roy Moore’s accusers was credible–and yet, engaged in politically-motivated victim shaming anyway. This cannot stand. For now, the best way to deliver that message is to pressure the folks at the American Conservative Union to keep Breitbart out of next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Sign here to deliver that message.
If there was ever a cause for an exception to the rule against kicking a man when he is down, this is it. It’s long past time Bannon was thrown into the dustbin.
(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)