Bannon loses support of pro-Trump billionaire backer over media fights
Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has reportedly lost the support of billionaire backer Rebekah Mercer after he suggested he might run for president himself.
A person close to Mercer told The Washington Post that she no longer supports Bannon. According to the report, Mercer was frustrated with Bannon’s strategy in the Alabama Senate special election and pulled her funding after he told other major conservative donors that Mercer would back Bannon in his own presidential bid.
Bannon, now head of Breitbart News, supported Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct, in his eventual defeat to now-Sen. Doug Jones (D) in December.
“The core constituency for Breitbart is what you would call the Trump Deplorables. That’s the audience. And if they’re asked to choose between Steve and Trump, they’re going to choose Trump. That’s clear,” a person familiar with Breitbart News’s operations told the Post.
It was unclear from the report whether Mercer, who bought a stake of Breitbart News from her father in November, will continue to back the right-wing news site. The report said she is no longer backing any future Bannon projects.
Rumors of a possible Bannon run in 2020 are reportedly mentioned in Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
The book caused a stir in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday when several passages were leaked and an excerpt was published by New York Magazine.
Bannon made headlines after he was quoted in the book criticizing Trump’s eldest son for a meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised “dirt” on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon said, according to the book.
President Trump responded to Bannon’s remarks in a statement on Wednesday, accusing his former adviser of losing his mind.
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Trump said. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
“Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was,” the president added.