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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

President Donald Trump has reportedly lost the backing of one of his most generous 2016 donors: the wealthy Mercer family. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman is reporting that according to multiple sources, the Mercers won’t be supporting Trump in his 2020 reelection bid.

The Mercers supported Trump aggressively in 2016, donating at least $15.5 million to pro-Trump organizations and $10 million to the far-right and overtly pro-Trump Breitbart News. Billionaire Robert Mercer used the data mining firm Cambridge Analytica, which he co-founded in 2013, to promote Trump’s campaign — and after Trump won the general election, Rebekah Mercer (Robert Mercer’s daughter) became a senior member his transition team. The Mercers donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund.

But according to Sherman’s sources, the Mercers have become disillusioned with Trump for a variety of reasons. One of them has to do with former Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon, who the Mercers brought to Trump’s campaign in 2016; after Bannon left the Trump Administration in 2017 and was “exiled” by Trump, Sherman explains, that “drove a wedge between Trump and the Mercers.”

The Mercers, according to Sherman, were also upset when Bannon was quoted extensively in Michael Wolff’s anti-Trump book Fire and Fury and made some comments that were critical of members of the Trump family. An anonymous source close to the Mercer family told Sherman, “Bob and Rebekah both felt so burned by Bannon and the negative publicity.”

In 2017, according to one of Sherman’s sources, Robert Mercer was pushed out as co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies — which the source said was “really spooked” by the FBI’s investigation of Cambridge Analytica.

A former Renaissance Technologies executive told Sherman that in 2016, Trump wasn’t the Mercers’ first choice for a GOP candidate — they preferred Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas but decided to back Trump after he received his party’s nomination and felt he would be preferable to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “They never really liked Trump,” the source told Sherman. “Trump was just Bob’s play against Hillary.”

Another factor in the Mercers’ decision not to support Trump in 2020, according to Sherman’s sources, is Robert Mercer’s reclusive nature. Robert Mercer, allegedly, likes cats more than he likes people, and he believed he sacrificed his privacy because of his support of Trump.

A source close to the Mercers told Sherman, “Bob views all his political spending as a bad investment. This whole thing did not end up well for them.”

IMAGE: Billionaire Trump donor Robert Mercer.

 

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.