Vicky Ward is mostly an author and investigative journalist who happens to be editor-at-large at Town and Country magazine. Her last book, The Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World’s Toughest Tycoons, was about midtown Manhattan’s “real estate royalty” and how “their empires came crumbling down in the 2008 financial crisis.” The inside flap of the book reads:
The Liar’s Ball is a story of naked, unregulated capitalism, of the sometimes bloody free-for-all of the free market. It’s a tale of brilliant and enormously ambitious billionaires fighting bare-knuckled to get what they want. And they all wanted the GM Building.
Through over 200 interviews with real estate’s best and brightest—Donald Tr-mp, Harry Macklowe, Samuel Zell, Mort Zuckerman, and many more—New York Times bestselling author Vicky Ward exposes the lies and schemes and insecurities behind the deals made by some of the world’s biggest egos. The Liar’s Ball is the riveting real-life tale of just how far these people would go to get the money, power, and attention they so desperately crave.
Ward has been keeping her eye on Tr-mp and those surrounding him. She has appeared several times on television news discussing, among other things, the roles Ivanka Tr-mp and her husband Jared Kushner play in the Tr-mp regime. Her latest writing effort is an expose in the Huffington Post’s magazine, Highline. The expose, “The Blow-It-All-Up Billionaries,” is about the eccentric Mercer family, big-time donors to Tr-mp and other right-wingers.
To give you an idea of the Mercer family’s eccentricity—okay, political nuttiness—they once supported a congressional candidate from Oregon, a chemist named Art Robinson (Rachel Maddow famously battled with him in 2010), who thinks global warming is a hoax, believes we should sprinkle radioactive waste over the ocean (and possibly America) because it might be good for us, once believed HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and who, as Vicky Ward pointed out in her article, “was best known in his district for co-founding an organization that is collecting thousands of vials of urine as part of an effort it says will ‘revolutionize the evaluation of personal chemistry.’” The Mercers also supported a candidate in Arizona (running against John McCain) “who once held a town hall meeting to discuss chemtrails—chemicals, according to a long-standing conspiracy theory, that the federal government is spraying on the public without its knowledge.”
You get the idea. Ward sums it up:
In short, unlike other donors, the Mercers are not merely angling to influence the Republican establishment—they want to obliterate it.
Ward’s eye-opening story mainly focuses on 42-year-old Rebekah Mercer, the most politically active of the family, who demanded a position on the executive committee of Tr-mp’s transition team—and got it. Ward wrote of her:
it quickly became clear to her new colleagues that she wasn’t content just to chip in with ideas. She wanted decision-making power. To her peers on the executive committee, she supported Alabama senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and General Michael Flynn for national security adviser, but argued against naming Mitt Romney secretary of state. Her views on these matters were heard, according to several people on and close to the transition leadership. Rebekah was less successful when she lobbied hard for John Bolton, the famously hawkish former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to be deputy secretary of state. And when Bolton was not named to any position, she made her displeasure known. “I know it sounds sexist, but she was whiny as hell,” says one person who watched her operate. Almost everyone interviewed for this article, supporters and detractors alike, described her style as far more forceful than that of other powerful donors.
It was Rebekah who talked Tr-mp into dumping Paul Manafort and bringing in Bannon, whom she believed, with good reason, shared her political vision. And although some people around the regime say Rebekah Mercer’s and Steve Bannon’s “relations are strained,” others told Ward “not to count Rebekah out.” Why? The Mercer family, it turns out, “made one of their most consequential investments” in 2011. They put “a reported $10 million in a new right-wing media operation called Breitbart.” This of course led them to initially hook up with Steve Bannon and to get inside the regime, especially get inside Tr-mp’s head. Ward wrote of Rebekah’s future:
She still has a stake in Breitbart, which holds tremendous sway over Trump’s base and has recently gone on a no-holds-barred offensive against the GOP health care plan. And on March 13, Politicoreported that some Trump officials were already disillusioned with America First, which they felt had been slow to provide much-needed cover for his policy initiatives. There was talk of turning instead to a new group being launched by Rebekah Mercer. And so she may yet get another chance to realize her grand ambitions. “She’s used to getting everything she wants, 100 percent of the time,” says another person who knows her well. “Does she like getting 90 percent? No.”
In the short clip below, which is Ward appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, you will hear a summary of the Mercer’s influence and how the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizen’s United made what they do possible. And you will hear a little bit about a British data science company the Mercer’s invested in, around 2012, called SCL Group. It’s American branch was rebranded as Cambridge Analytica, which Rebekah Mercer tried to use to control various campaigns, including Tr-mp’s. Watch this and then go read Ward’s interesting piece: