Does Trump Victory Upend Elite Foreign Policy Consensus?

 

Victory Paves Way For Solutions, New Opportunists

President-elect Donald Trump’s triumph threatens — hopefully for the better — decades of foreign policy, much of it agreed upon in secret via a bipartisan consensus among elites.

As the campaign made clear, Trump's victory seems likely to block new free trade deals, reduce U.S. tensions with Russia, and curtail both illegal immigration to the United States and covert U.S. efforts to overthrow foreign governments by backing dissidents, civil disturbances, revolutions and foreign wars.

Donald Trump at GOP debate Aug. 6, 2015Today’s column and my two scheduled broadcast interviews explore Trump’s likely foreign policy and implementation team. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leads Trump's transition planning to fill about 4,000 politically appointed jobs overall in the Trump administration, including cabinet posts.

Neither the presidential campaign nor news coverage of Trump’s surprise victory Nov. 8 have addressed in much detail so far foreign affairs and military posts in the next administration, aside from a Washington Post column Nov. 9 that described his planning as "opaque."

The candidate (shown in a file photo by Gage Skidmore) has spoken largely in generalities about foreign policy and has failed to identify and empower top surrogates to speak in detail. Also, the core issues are highly secretive, with specifics often obscured by "national security."

That secrecy is typical even of such high profile issues as fault-finding in the 2012 deaths of four Americans to jihadists in Benghazi.

Neither political party nor official investigators have ever wanted to disclose that the deaths stemmed in part from a covert U.S. operation to smuggle arms and fighters from Libya via Benghazi to Turkey to help overthrow Syria's government in a secret operation that continues to today. For years, we have reported those facts here on the Justice Integrity Project site (in What's Important About Hillary Clinton's Emails, for example) and in our 2013 book Presidential Puppetry.

As a final reason for lack of much public discussion about foreign policy: Trump's victory seemed so unlikely that most power brokers themselves were scrambling after the win to adapt to it. They never seriously undertook most of the preparations typical for inserting their operatives to control new administrations, but are scrambling to do so now.

Voters Reject So-called Experts

Washington hosts a large array of "experts" who counsel both Democratic and Republican administrations and pressuring for certain policies.

They perform such essential functions also as recommending personnel to award contracts, schedule appointments, write speeches, recommend additional appointees (such as judges and prosecutors) and otherwise guide/control the immense power of the federal government. These functions include such Deep State or black operations as electronic surveillance, propaganda, disinformation, arms smuggling, money laundering, and fomenting civil disturbances or even regime change -- all operations theoretically imposed only on foreigners.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton via flickr and Karen Smith MurphyAlthough some genuine differences exist, the overall pattern is for a mind-boggling degree of agreement on such issues as free trade, relaxed immigration enforcement, and covert operations to destabilize governments deemed unfriendly to U.S. economic interests. Our research indicates that the Yale Law-educated Hillary and Bill Clinton, shown in a file photo, have many overlapping relationships with the century-long tradition of bipartisan foreign policy expertise that includes establishment of the Rhodes Scholarship program to enable future leaders like Bill Clinton to attend Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

This consensus should not be surprising. Both Republicans and Democrats have drawn since the 1950s upon the counsel of former National Security Advisors Henry Kissinger, a Republican, and his Democratic counterpart Zbigniew Brzezinski. Kissinger and Brzezinski (whose children have advised presidential candidates of both parties or co-host the weekly MSNC program Morning Joe). Kissinger and Brzezinski shared the patronage of the Rockefeller brothers, the late Nelson and still-living David, and other elites who fund major corporations, foundations and political parties that spread a shared gospel, much to the horror of at least some critics well-connected enough to understand the implications.

Evangelist Pat Robertson, a Yale Law School-educated 1992 candidate for president against both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, authored in 1991 The New World Order that denounced the concept. Robertson voiced such opposition even though he shared many elite connections with his friend Bush, a Skull and Bones member at Yale, scion of U.S. senator like Robertson, and a covert recruit into CIA operations soon after graduation.

Kissinger and Brzezinsky even shared the same academic mentor, William Y. Elliott of Harvard, an advisor to six presidents and advocate of an interventionist foreign policy advancing big business interests of leading UK and US corporations. This is documented by New World Order: A Strategy of Imperialism, an illuminating book this fall by broadcast host Presidential Puppetry by Andrew Kreigand film maker Sean Stone. Stone illustrates how elites for more than a century have shared many common goals, including undermining nation states so that their populations could be more easily controlled.

One method to implement this or any other such idea is control of foreign policy government appointments, creation of expert foundations (like the Rockefeller or Ford Foundations), think tanks like the Council of Foreign Relations, control of intelligence black operations, and influence on the media, including mainstream outlets owned and otherwise controlled by elites.

The Washington Post, for example, has long been a voice for these elites. Its former publisher Eugene Meyer had been a chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank working closely during World War I with Bush patriarch Samuel Bush. Meyer offered to hire Bush's grandson George H.W. Bush promptly upon the latter's graduation from Yale.

Then Meyer's son-in-law and successor Philip Graham worked closely with the CIA in its Operation Mockingbird propaganda program to organize America's top 40 newspaper, magazine and broadcasting executives into CIA-friendly coverage advancing an American empire. Current Post owner Jeffrey Bezos soon after purchase in 2013 for $250 million arranged a contract whereby the CIA pays Amazon.com, which Bezos founded, $600 million for data services.

But those patrons, their experts, their advice, and in effect what might be called their "New World Order" are precisely what Trump and many of his supporters have rejected by thwarting Bush and Clinton candidacies this cycle.

The Big Question

One major question is whether Trump's foreign policy will morph into becoming that of the Republican majority controlling the Senate and House. That process would delight many of their traditional hawkish, free-trade, and globalist backers — and horrify voters who demand "change," including on foreign interventions. As one potential sign, commentaries are starting to appear speculating that a Trump administration would thwart the Iranian nuclear disarmament deal with other powers, as reported this week in Proponents of the nuclear pact fear the worst under a Trump administration.   

That said, one interpretation of Vice President Mike Pence's role is that he would use his insider Washington experience to run the administration in much the manner of his predecessors George H.W. Bush and Mike PenceDick Cheney, while Trump (rather like Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush) occupied a more generalist tole. Pence, currently governor of Indiana, is shown in an official photo at left.

In the short term, the president-elect's unexpected victory is likely to lessen U.S. pressure to overthrow Syria's president. This also will increase the likelihood of a prompt defeat of ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria by allowing Russian and Syria to finish the job without covert aid to the jihadists from such regional allies as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. That aid comes with the secret concurrence of hawks in both parties who are embedded in the permanent U.S. government bureaucracy.

The Trump foreign policy threatens also major financial and alliance upheavals. Such change paves the way for both reform and for financial opportunists and oligarchs who can profit from the global disruptions in largely unchecked ways because the details are cloaked in "national security" secrecy.

Trump's failure to disclose his tax returns and his businesses' financial supporters brings into focus a major question: Will the massive changes underway simply pave the way for a new group of oligarchs and opportunists to use government for private financial, partisan and ideological purposes?  

Financial markets reported massive downturns at news of Trump's surprise victory. Those paper losses indicate potential harms not simply to financial elites but also to the pension funds and other safety net savings of ordinary Americans who benefit in certain ways from the relatively stable global financial system, even though its long-term inequities and indeed corruption has hurt vast numbers.

Democratic and Republican Campaigns DecodedThese elites have dominated the foreign policies of both Democrats and Republicans for many decades with agendas typically kept secret for the most part. U.S. voters decisively rejected these policies this week.

Many of those policies involve covert operations — government contracts, empire-building abroad via regime change, civil war, assassinations — and pressure on a compliant media that typically overlooks or trivializes major abuses. Voters, although acting on limited information, used gut instinct for the most part this week to demand change.

Few voters know, for example, that the bipartisan foreign policy consensus has been sustained in part because all U.S. presidents beginning in 1981 after President Jimmy Carter have been covert operatives for the CIA or FBI before entering politics. Those kinds of relationships create the positive environment with investigative agencies that budding politicos find useful, and that benefit the agencies.

Previous presidents like Carter tended to be former military officers. Carter, for example, was a Naval Academy graduate, nuclear engineer and Georgia governor whom Brzezinski boasted in a memoir of selecting in 1975 as the Rockefeller-founded Trilateral Commission's preferred 1976 Democratic nominee for president.

Ronald ReaganScreen Actors Guild President Ronald Reagan, for example (shown in a presidential photo), advanced his career beginning in the late 1940s by informing the FBI of adverse material about fellow members of the film community, as documented by hundreds of thousands of pages of documents obtained under Freedom of Information Act litigation by biographer Seth Rosenfeld but ignored by others.

President Obama's first job after graduation from Columbia University (where Brzezinski chaired his department) was as a researcher with the CIA-front company Business International Corp. and not (as erroneously assumed by most journalists and historians) as a community organizer. The future president built his progressive bona fides later in his career by community organizing and joining a black church led by a radical preacher.

Even more important, the intelligence agencies function in significant part to implement the agendas of Western financial elites, or "puppetmasters," who groom and otherwise influence via little-reported means not simply presidents and other top officials of both parties, but also courts, the media, universities, and other non-profit groups.

These conclusions are drawn from my research stemming from my 2013 book, whose full title is Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.

Trump Tax Returns, Again

Donald Trump is the first president in American history with no previous government or military experience. But no one should assume that he operates totally independently just because he is the first presidential candidate in four decades to refuse disclosure of his tax returns. Trump's mentor and attorney during his formative years was the ultra-right attorney Roy Cohn, whose specialties included representing Mafia leaders whose mob-controlled construction unions were also vital to Trump's success. Cohn was also deeply connected to intelligence agencies, including a leadership position with the business group Permindex, which has been suspected by some as involved in monstrous covert activities. 

Although this author does not yet have evidence linking Trump to the New York Mafia's most sinister activities — which included massive narcotics trafficking, money laundering and assassination of political leaders and law enforcers around the world, among other crimes — the mainstream reporter and financial expert David Cay Johnston has documented that Trump's mob ties were so strong a quarter of a century ago that New Jersey's Gaming Commission should have denied Trump casino licenses in Atlantic City if commissioners had been acting honestly. 

Phil Mikan ShowFragmented but powerful evidence exists also that Trump has been at times (and probably currently) deeply beholden to powerful lenders, both known and unknown, foreign and domestic. Their influence with him and the federal bureaucracy is nearly a blank slate, especially since his children will control his financial empire even if he reduces his control for appearance's sake during his presidency.

My continuing research on these themes leads to my forthcoming book on this week's election, Presidential Puppetry 2016: The Candidate Charade Continues. That new book will explore the anti-incumbent mood reflected in the election but will include also the largely unreported context of public angst over the impact of a "Deep State" and globalist agenda that has inflicted austerity on most citizens even in Western democracies.

This column is a preview of that new book, and also a synopsis of two hour-long broadcast interviews Nov. 9 on the topic.

Adnan MansourThe first was on The Phil Mikan Show in Connecticut, where I began my career as a newspaper reporter at the Hartford Courant, and then became a magazine writer, author, and grant recipient for study at Yale Law School.

Connecticut this week returned its entire Democratic six-member delegation to the House and Senate even during a "change' election in which much of the rest of the country was ousting incumbents, especially Democrats.

Joining me on the show was Howard Pitkin, who retired in 2014 after seven years as the state's banking commissioner. He provided expertise from the financial sector, which may seem boring to the casual newspaper reader but functions (at least in its Wall Street and City of London operations) as the launch-pad and control mechanism for government officials who influence much of our lives.

The other interview was with Al Mayadeen Satellite Network. Its "Nation’s Strategies" host Sami Kleib interviewed me for its Middle East audience. Other guests were Raghida Dergham, head of Al-Hayat newspaper office from New York, and Adnan Mansour, former Lebanese foreign Minister (shown at left). A YouTube version of the show broadcast in Arabic is here.

Stephen BannonWhat's Next?

The topics on the Al Mayadeen show, with my segment broadcast from its studio at the National Press Club near the White House, included the new administration’s likely foreign policy in the Middle East, including Syria.

That's a lot to cover. But the Trump administration will soon start dealing with it, and so should the public.

In this, the insights from our Deep State research on hidden control factors over government officials from both U.S. parties provides a useful window for anyone predicting the future.

As one example, the public knows very little about the secretive billionaire Robert Mercer, who helps fund the Breitbart "alt-right" commentary site. Mercer is a hedge fund entrepreneur whose companies include one providing core computing services for intelligence operations. A hedge fund is successful when its decision-maker knows what is likely to happen in advance.

Working with intelligence services and helping enable a presidency are excellent first steps to gaining an edge over others in the financial markets, as well as fostering an ideological agenda governing Americans and productive (for some at least for some) foreign policy.

Breitbart leader Steve Bannon (shown in a file photo at right) led the Trump campaign along Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway and Deputy Campaign Manager David Bossie, both veterans of Mercer-funded political efforts in the campaign to advance the failed candidacy of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. After the election Cruz volunteered to help Trump implement a true conservative agenda.

Regarding other developments, we can only suggest to voters to stay alert and stay involved. Your vote is only part of the democratic process. Knowledge empowers you. 

 
 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

 

Related News Coverage

 

Donald Trump Gage Skidmore photo CPAC convention

 

TRUMP TRIUMPHS

 

Trump 279 electoral votes, 47.5% popular vote; Clinton 228 electoral votes, 47.6% popular vote; GOP controls Senate (51-48 seats), keeps House majority 239-193

 

Washington Post, Amid a world of problems, Trump’s foreign policy prescriptions are opaque, Karen DeYoung​, Nov. 9, 2016. With little clarity on much of what he intends to do, the best initial indicator of Donald Trump’s approach may be those he chooses for his national security team.  After a campaign of bombastic sound bites and often contradictory policy prescriptions, Trump’s plans remain opaque for dealing with issues including terrorism, Russian aggression and multiple shooting wars in the Middle East.

He has called for increased military strength and more forceful American leadership, while also speaking of stepping back from U.S. responsibilities as the free world’s primary protector. He has invited China to invade North Korea and “solve that problem,” but also said he would host North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the White House.

He said he would renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal, and then called for strict enforcement of the existing agreement. His plan to combat the Islamic State, Trump said during the campaign, is a secret.

Bob CorkerAmong the rumored candidates for secretary of state, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton — both outspoken Trump supporters — are viewed as anathema by many current diplomats and as loose cannons even by many of their fellow Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (shown at left), is seen as the more mainstream candidate.

The possibility that retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and an active Trump adviser and surrogate who is highly critical of current policy, would be named as defense secretary or national security adviser does not sit well within the Pentagon or the intelligence community, career officials in both have said. Michael FlynnFlynn’s appointment to a Cabinet position would also require a congressional waiver of a law restricting activities of former senior military officers. (Flynn is shown at right in an official photo.)

Washington Post, Republican businessman wins the presidency in a stunning upset over Clinton, Karen Tumulty, Philip Rucker and Anne Gearan, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald Trump was elected the nation’s 45th president in the stunning culmination of a campaign that defied expectations and conventions at every turn. The 70-year-old celebrity businessman who had never before run for office is poised to become the oldest president ever elected to a first term. Trump is shown above in a Gage Skidmore file photo taken at a CPAC convention.

Global markets were rattled after assumptions earlier in the week that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would notch a comfortable victory. One by one on Tuesday night, electoral prizes that for hours had been too close to call deep into the night fell into Trump’s win column. First, Florida and Ohio. Then North Carolina. And then Pennsylvania and, at 2:30 a.m., Wisconsin.

A few minutes after 2 a.m., Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, told stunned supporters who had gathered in anticipation of celebrating her victory to go home because there would be no further statement as outstanding votes were counted. “We can wait a little longer, can’t we?” Podesta said.

Clinton claimed Colorado and Virginia as she thought she would, but she underperformed expectations in the traditionally Democratic-leaning Rust Belt states where Trump campaigned aggressively in the final weeks. Clinton had so taken for granted a region thought of as her “blue wall” that she did not hold a single event in Wisconsin during the general-election campaign.

New York Times, Giuliani, Christie and Gingrich Could Get Top Positions, Patrick Healy and Jeremy W. Peters, Nov. 9, 2016. Donald J. Trump on Wednesday turned to assembling his White House team, a reality Chris Christiethat was once unimaginable to the American political establishment. His advisers said he was also selecting a conservative nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, head of the Trump transition team, is shown in an official photo.

Washington Post, Clinton, Obama urge backers to accept Trump’s victory, Anne Gearan and Juliet Eilperin, Nov. 9, 2016. ‘We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,’ Clinton says in emotional concession speech. Both Hillary Clinton and President Obama urged their backers Wednesday to accept President-elect Donald Trump’s victory and support his transition into power, as Democrats prepare to hand over control of the White House for the first time in eight years.

The calls for a national political reconciliation underscored the seismic political realignment now underway in Washington after Clinton’s crushing loss to the New York businessman. Both the president and his former Secretary of State told their supporters not to despair as Republicans rejoiced at the idea that they will control both the legislative and executive branch in two and-a-half months.

Al Monitor, Proponents of the nuclear pact fear the worst under a Trump administration, Julian Pecquet, Nov. 9, 2016. Advocates of the nuclear deal with Iran are convinced the pact is in mortal danger following Republican Donald Trump’s upset election. Deal skeptics on Capitol Hill have already prepared a raft of bills that have a far better chance of making it into law with the threat of a White House veto now out of the way. But the president-elect himself can just as easily send what he’s called a “disastrous” deal to the dustbin of history by simply refusing to sign off on sanctions relief.

“That’s why I find it so hard to believe that the deal survives,” said Richard Nephew, a former State Department sanctions official who now heads the program on Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets at Columbia University. “At some point, [Trump] will have to make an affirmative decision to support its implementation.” Under the deal, the United States isn’t scheduled to provide additional sanctions relief until October 2023, well into a second Trump term. But the deal does require the president to periodically extend waivers on sanctions that remain on the books, as long as Iran abides by its obligations under the deal.

Iranian officials rushed to reassure the world that they remain wedded to the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his Cabinet after Trump’s election that the deal “cannot be overturned by one government’s decision.”

USA Today, Trump wins battlegrounds Florida, Ohio, N.C.; Clinton hangs on, John Bacon, Nov. 9, 2016. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump was the projected winner in the crucial battleground states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio on Tuesday, widening an incredible but increasingly likely path to victory for the billionaire real-estate mogul and reality TV star. Democrat Hillary Clinton was clinging to faint hopes as the election of the nation's 45th president neared a frenzied conclusion.

Donald Trump Apprentice promoBy midnight, Trump had claimed more than 240 electoral votes to Clinton's 215. The magic number is 270, and swing states still too close to call include Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10) and New Hampshire (4). 

Trump’s strong early showing brought angst to world financial markets, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling as much as 500 points in after-hours trading. Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said a Trump win would spark uncertainty and likely result in a steep fall in stock prices Wednesday.

Trump (shown in a photo from his hit television show "The Apprentice") claimed early victories in Utah, Idaho, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas,Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana. Indiana is a historically red state and home to Trump's running mate, Gov. Mike Pence.

Washington Post, Donald Trump’s (mostly) presidential debut as president-elect, Aaron Blake, Nov. 9, 2016 (3:42 a.m.). Donald Trump made his debut as president-elect of the United States just before 3 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday morning. Hillary Clinton had called him to congratulate him. It was official. The big question as he took the stage in this new reality was: What kind of president will he really be? Would the bombast and personal feuding continue? Would he try to tone it down in a way he never truly did on the campaign trail?

Well, if his first address as apparent president-elect is any indication, there will still be some of that Trump unpredictability and flavor, but Trump for the most part attempted to reach out to his opponents and struck a gracious tone. For those worried about a Trump presidency, it was probably what they had hoped to see. And for a country harshly divided by the 2016 election, it was a uniquely subdued and almost somber moment. Below, we've pasted his entire speech, with our highlights and analysis.

 

Foreign Policy News

Justice Integrity Project, Obama Resists Hawks As U.S., Russia Step Up War Threats Over Syria, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 9, 2016. President Obama continues to resist the nation's most aggressive war hawks even as the long-secret U.S. plan to overthrow Syria's government last week reached a turning point in Aleppo amidst remarkable threats between the United States and Russia of military action against one another. 

The Washington Post's well-connected Associate Editor Karen DeYoung and nationial security columnist Josh Rogin were among those reporting (here in the Post's print edition Oct. 9, for example) that Obama and some of the Defense Department's top experts remain reluctant to agree to widespread calls for a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone in Syria or major upgrades of weapons systems for rebels. Meanwhile, however, Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and a number of other allies and administration members are reported as backing exactly those actions. Their public reasons are ostensibly on humanitarian and pro-democracy reasons, but clearly also to vindicate America's long-sought overthrown of the government of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad planned and implemented for many years by the CIA and others in covert fashion, as now known.

Justice Integrity Project, What's Important About Hillary Clinton's Emails, Andrew Kreig, March 30, 2015. Hillary Clinton’s secret personal email system continued last week to prompt heavy news coverage but with scant scrutiny of the most sinister implications for the public. These involve frightening national security intrigues and political backstabbing.

 

Reclusive Trump Campaign Patron Robert Mercer, Former Ted Cruz Supporter

New York Times, Hedge-Fund Magnate Robert Mercer Emerges as a Generous Backer of Cruz, Eric Litchblau and Alexandra Stevenson, April 10, 2015. The two men share a passion for unbridled markets, concerns about the Internal Revenue Service and a skeptical view of climate change. Now the two — Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge-fund magnate — share another bond that could link them through November 2016: Both want to see Mr. Cruz elected president.

Mr. Mercer, a reclusive Long Islander who started at I.B.M. and made his fortune using computer patterns to outsmart the stock market, emerged this week as a key early bankroller of Mr. Cruz’s surprisingly fast campaign start. He is believed to be the main donor behind a network of four “super PACs” supporting Mr. Cruz that reported raising $31 million just a few weeks into his campaign.

The emergence of rich and relatively low-profile donors like Mr. Mercer could single-handedly jump-start a presidential campaign, said Trevor Potter, a campaign finance lawyer who served as a Republican member of the Federal Election Commission. “It just takes a random billionaire to change a race and maybe change the country,” Mr. Potter said. “That’s what’s so radically different now.”

Mr. Mercer does not have the name recognition of fellow Republican financiers like the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, but he has spent more than $15 million since 2012 in support of conservative political campaigns and causes, donating to a number of candidates who had never even met him. Both moderate Republican candidates and Democrats in states like Iowa, New York and Oregon have found themselves in the cross hairs of expensive attack ads that he financed.

Mr. Mercer “is a very low-profile guy, but he’s becoming a bigger and bigger player,” said Bradley A. Smith, a campaign finance expert who was a Republican appointee on the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Mercer’s financial support for Mr. Cruz “sends the message to other donors that Cruz is a serious guy,” Mr. Smith said, “and that brings in other donors.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon, remembers with some bitterness Mr. Mercer’s opposition to his re-election campaign in 2014 when he spent about $650,000 on attack ads and other efforts in support of a conservative challenger.

“I don’t think the guy had ever even been to Oregon,” Mr. DeFazio said. He said he believed Mr. Mercer targeted him in part because of legislation Mr. DeFazio sponsored that threatened higher taxes for hedge funds like Mr. Mercer’s fund, Renaissance Technologies.

“He’s a patron for ultra-right-wing causes,” Mr. DeFazio said, “and in a Republican presidential race, being an ultra-right-wing millionaire from Wall Street isn’t going to hurt you.”

He is also an example of how wealthy donors have been empowered by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the landmark Citizens United case, which paved the way for super PACs. Unlike candidates, super PACs can accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations to support a candidate so long as they do not officially “coordinate” with the campaign. Many moneyed Wall Street veterans enjoy playing the political game, hosting fund-raisers and speaking publicly about the horse they are backing. Mr. Mercer is not one of them. A computer scientist by training, he is more at ease crunching numbers than pressing the flesh. Mr. Mercer declined to comment.
Who Is Running for President?

He prefers to stay quiet about most things. After receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Computational Linguistics at an event last year, Mr. Mercer told the audience he was daunted by the prospect of speaking there for an hour, “which, by the way, is more than I typically talk in a month so it’s quite a challenge.”

Intensely private, he has been described as “an icy cold poker player” whose boss once jokingly called him “an automaton,” according to a description in “More Money Than God,” a book about the hedge fund industry by Sebastian Mallaby.

Before joining Renaissance Technologies, Mr. Mercer, 68, worked at I.B.M.’s research center, where he specialized in computerized translation of languages.

 

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues