The most powerful woman on team Trump (Hint: It's not Ivanka)

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The most powerful woman on Donald Trump's team is not daughter Ivanka, wife Melania or intrepid spokesperson Kellyanne Conway.

Instead, at least in these early days as a Trump administration takes shape, the woman with potentially enormous influence is a 42-year-old mom with four kids who lives on the Upper West Side of New York City – a bastion of Democratic liberalism – and is part-owner of a cookie shop. Her $28 million apartment is just up the street from Trump-branded buildings that removed his name this week.

She also has a master's degree from Stanford, once worked as a Wall Street trader and sits on the board of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Related: Top GOP National Security Official Warns, Don't Go Work for Trump

But perhaps most important, Rebekah Mercer is the daughter of Robert Mercer, the reclusive hedge-fund billionaire who is said to be a global-warming skeptic and who funds a raft of conservative causes in addition to donating to established think tanks like Heritage and the Cato Institute.

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It is not too wild an exaggeration to say that Rebekah Mercer and her father, co-CEO of the wildly successful Renaissance Technologies, are two of the primary reasons Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.

Until this year, Rebekah, the second of Mercer's three daughters, mostly flew below the public radar. She was an emerging force in the Republican Party, but outside the one-percent world of power and influence, she was little known.

That began to change dramatically in this election cycle when the Mercers laid down a big bet on the Republican presidential primaries, donating a total of about $15.5 million to Keep the Promise I/Make America Number 1, a super PAC that was one of the main backers of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, according to opensecrets.org, a unit of the Pew Center for Responsive Politics. The PAC later formed an offshoot called Defeat Crooked Hillary.

After a particularly nasty battle with Trump, Cruz was vanquished, and he was hardly gracious in defeat: At the Republican convention in July, he failed to endorse the GOP nominee.

Related: A Climate Change Doubter Will Overhaul the EPA in Trump's Administration

The Mercers apparently didn't hold the same grudge. In May, according to a profile in The Washington Post, Rebekah Mercer met with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Ivanka's husband and a close adviser to her father, and agreed to back Trump. Rebekah Mercer's influence on the Trump campaign was felt swiftly.

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NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: IvankaTrump attends NBC's 'Today' Trump Town Hall at Rockefeller Plaza on April 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: (L-R) Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Kai Trump, Melania Trump, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Tristan Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump pose onstage during NBC's Today Trump Town Hall at Rockefeller Plaza on April 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on April 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Team GT/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on April 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Team GT/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 16: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on April 16, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Team GT/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 29: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen arriving home from the hospital with their newborn on March 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Tal Rubin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 29: Ivanka Trump is seen arriving home from the hospital with her newborn on March 29, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Tal Rubin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on March 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Tal Rubin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on March 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Tal Rubin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on March 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Tal Rubin/GC Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican Presidential candidate, center, speaks as wife Melania Trump, right, and daughter Ivanka Trump, left, listen during a South Carolina primary night rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Trump, the brash New York billionaire who has upended all the rules of modern campaigning, won Saturday's South Carolina primary in a decisive fashion that shrinks the prospects of his Republican presidential rivals to stop his march to the nomination. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Businesswoman Ivanka Trump attends Glamour's 25th Anniversary Women Of The Year Awards at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, right, and his children Ivanka Trump, executive vice president at Trump Organization Inc., center, and Eric Trump, executive vice president at Trump Organization Inc., attend the Republican presidential candidate debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. The sixth Republican debate comes at a time with less than three weeks before Iowa caucus-goers cast the first votes of the 2016 presidential election on February 1. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Ivanka Trump attends 2015 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards at Carnegie Hall on November 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Glamour)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Ivanka Trump attends the 18th Annual Accessories Council ACE Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on November 2, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Robert Kamau/GC Images)
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attends the 9th Annual Eric Trump Foundation golf invitational at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 21, 2015 in Briarcliff Manor City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the 2015 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the 'China: Through The Looking Glass' Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 14: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump leave the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Vanity Fair party at State Supreme Courthouse on April 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the 'Woman In Gold' New York premiere at The Museum of Modern Art on March 30, 2015 in New York City. PHOTOGRAPH BY Photo Image Press / Barcroft Media (Photo credit should read Photo Image Press / Barcroft Med via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the New York City Ballet 2014 Fall Gala at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on September 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attends the 8th Annual Eric Trump Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 15, 2014 in Briarcliff Manor, New York. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend the Joan Rivers memorial service at Temple Emanu-El on September 7, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by NCP/Star Max/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the Costume Institute Gala for the 'PUNK: Chaos to Couture' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
DORAL, FL - MARCH 07: Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump attend the Carolina Herrera Fashion Show with GREY GOOSE Vodka at the Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral on March 7, 2014 in Doral, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for GREY GOOSE)
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the Eric Trump Foundation's 6th Annual Golf Invitational Benefiting The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 10, 2012 in Briarcliff Manor, New York. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the 'Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the Yahoo! News/ABC News White House Correspondents' Dinner Cocktail Reception at the Capital Hilton on April 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images)
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attends the 5th annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 13, 2011 in Briarcliff Manor, New York. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend Ivanka Trump's Fine Jewelry Boutique opening at on December 12, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, arrives with husband Jared Kushner, owner of the New York Observer, at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria on September 21, 2010 in New York, NY. (Photo by Tim Boxer/ Getty Images)
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attends the 5th annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 13, 2011 in Briarcliff Manor, New York. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
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In July, Republican pollster Conway, who was running the Make America Number 1 PAC, was installed as a senior adviser to Paul Manafort, then the Trump campaign chief. She was replaced at the PAC by David Bossie, head of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United, which was responsible for bringing the eponymous case that led the Supreme Court to alter drastically campaign-finance rules.

Manafort was dispatched a month later and replaced by Steve Bannon, the right-wing provocateur, filmmaker and ex-Wall Streeter who was executive chairman of Breitbart News, a recipient of Mercer money. Conway became manager of the campaign.

Conway and Bannon, perhaps more than any others, turned the campaign around and are responsible for Trump's surprise victory. Although it may not have been a surprise to them: As Conway said on Meet the Press last Sunday, the Clinton campaign "misread America."

One reason the Trump campaign may have been more tuned into the mood of the electorate is Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics company funded by Robert Mercer that collected more than $5 million working for the Cruz campaign before switching over to Trump.

Related: Anti-Hate Groups Erupt Over Trump's Latest Hire

Cambridge shares a Beverly Hills, California, address with Breitbart News and Glittering Steel, a film and video production company controlled by Bannon. In fact, Salon is reporting Wednesday that a campaign-finance watchdog group has asked the FBI to investigate almost $1 million in payments made by the Make America Number 1 PAC to Glittering Steel.

Rebekah Mercer now sits on the executive committee of the Trump transition team, where she can help influence the shape of the incoming administration. Bannon, whose appointment as Trump's chief White House strategist has sparked an outcry, is also on the committee. And Conway remains an integral part of the Trump team.

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Steve Bannon named chief strategist of Trump administration
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin U.S. November 1, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon (R) is pictured talking to a reporter after a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegr's
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Warren, Michigan U.S. October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
FILE - In this Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, file photo, Stephen Bannon, campaign CEO for President-elect Donald Trump, leaves Trump Tower in New York. Trump on Sunday named Republican Party chief Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and conservative media owner Bannon as his top presidential strategist, two men who represent opposite ends of the unsettled GOP. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Interpretive park ranger Caitlin Kostic, center, gives a tour near the high-water mark of the Confederacy at Gettysburg National Military Park to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and campaign CEO Steve Bannon, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Gettysburg, Pa. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Steve Bannon, campaign CEO for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, looks on during a national security meeting with advisors at Trump Tower, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
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John Bolton, former ambassador to the U.N. under George W. Bush and a Fox News commentator, is now said to be a candidate for Secretary of State, along with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The John Bolton Super PAC, aimed at making "America's defense and foreign policy a significant factor in federal elections," got a $1 million donation from Robert Mercer this election cycle.

And Trump Tower had a surprising visitor earlier this week when Senator Cruz, who has been mentioned as a possible nominee for the Supreme Court, made an appearance. If Rebekah Mercer was around, no doubt he said hi.

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