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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 2nd December 2016 > THE BILLIONAIRE’S SUGAR DADDY


Meet Robert Mercer, the mystery donor who spent millions—and allegedly used some shady financing—to put Donald Trump in the White House


THUMBS UP: Trump slammed a primary opponent for being backed by Mercer’s super PAC, but gladly accepted its largesse when Mercer decided to back him.

ROBERT MERCER seemed uncomfortable. It was 2014, and the billionaire had just stepped behind the podium to accept a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Computational Linguistics. He warned his audience that speaking for the required hour or so was “more than I typically talk in a month” and that he was no longer in their field of work. “I left IBM Research 20 years ago, and I really have not paid any attention to the world of linguistics or to IBM since then. And I can’t really talk about what I do now.”

That might have been OK for the folks inside that grand ballroom in a Baltimore hotel, but what he does now is of vital interest to the rest of America, because he wrote the checks that got Donald Trump elected president. Mercer was reportedly the third biggest donor to conservative outside-spending groups this election cycle, behind casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and hedge fund manager Paul Singer, and The Washington Post named him one of the “top 10 most influential billionaires in politics,” alongside Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers and President-elect Trump. But unlike those men, Mercer is by all accounts an extremely discreet individual who almost never gives interviews (his representatives would not put him in touch with Newsweek). As he once told The Wall Street Journal, “I’m happy going through my life without saying anything to anybody.”

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LE FRONT TRUMP: EUROPE COULD BE NEXT If the National Front’s Marine Le Pen wins the French presidential election in May, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council would be led by Trump, Le Pen, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Britain’s Theresa May, who is ushering the U.K. out of the EU (even though she campaigned, tepidly, for it to remain). With the possible exception of May, none seem thrilled about how the world has worked since the end of the Cold War.