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Robert Mercer. Photo by Oliver Contrera/ Getty Images

Prominent Trump backer Bob Mercer will step down as co-CEO of investment firm Renaissance Technologies at year-end, according to a memo viewed by Bloomberg.

Why it matters: Renaissance is known in financial circles as a quantitative hedge fund pioneer, and reportedly has around $45 billion in assets under management. But Mercer arguably has become better known in political circles for his deep support of President Trump, which is an outgrowth of his existing relationship with Steve Bannon and Breitbart News.

Succession plan: Mercer and Peter Brown were named co-CEOs of Renaissance in 2010, following the retirement of firm founder James Simons. Brown will run the firm solo beginning January 1, while Mercer plans to remain on the firm's technical staff.

Mercer also released a statement on Breitbart, Steve Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos:

"The press has also intimated that my politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon's. I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon's.
"Without individuals thinking for themselves, society as a whole will struggle to distinguish the signal of truth from the correlated noise of conformity. I supported Milo Yiannopoulos in the hope and expectation that his expression of views contrary to the social mainstream would promote the type of open debate and freedom of thought that is being throttled on many American college campuses today. But in my opinion, the actions and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate. I was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.
"For personal reasons, I have also decided to sell my stake in Breitbart News to my daughters."

Go deeper

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The U.S. is now vaccinating an average of 2 million people a day, up from 1.3 million in early February.

Why it matters: That puts us on track to hit President Biden's goal of 100 million doses a month ahead of schedule.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.

3 hours ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.