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Trump praises report of Steve Bannon's main financial backer disavowing him

Last Updated Jan 5, 2018 11:23 AM EST

The key financial backer for Breitbart News executive and former chief Trump strategist Steve Bannon is no longer supporting him, according to a statement given to The Washington Post Thursday.

Billionaire donor Rebekah Mercer, whose family has long funded Bannon's work, said in the statement that she supports President Trump, not his former chief strategist. The statement from Mercer comes the day after Mr. Trump publicly severed ties with Bannon, saying he "lost his mind" when he lost his job at the White House. 

"I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected," Mercer said. "My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements."

The president tweeted his support for the move on Friday morning, calling Bannon "Sloppy Steve."

CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports, based on two sources with direct knowledge, that White House officials urged Mercer to cut all ties with Bannon in the aftermath of Michael Wolff's new book "Fire and Fury: Inside Trump's White House." 

Rebekah Mercer and her father, Robert Mercer, have long been Bannon's primary funders, although Robert Mercer pulled out his stake in Breitbart in November. An on-the-record statement is a rare thing for the donors, who largely choose to stay out of the public spotlight. The Mercers have financially supported Breitbart News and other Bannon endeavors, like the Government Accountability Institute Bannon established in Florida to conduct conservative research projects. 

According to a report in the New York Times, the Mercers also pulled funding for Bannon's personal protective detail. 

The Mercer statement, along with Mr. Trump's lengthy statement disavowing Bannon, come after new excerpts have been published from Wolff's upcoming book, "Fire and Fury." In the book, Bannon calls the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer, "treasonous." 

The book, which has roiled Washington with unflattering accounts of the Trump campaign and White House, will be released Friday, after Mr. Trump's personal lawyer issued a cease and desist letter regarding its publication. It was originally scheduled to be released next week.  

A spokesperson for book publisher Henry Holt gave this statement on Thursday: 

"Henry Holt confirms that we received a cease and desist letter from an attorney for President Trump. We see 'Fire and Fury' as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.