Trump Declares War On The Koch Brothers: They Are "A Total Joke"

Two days after Charles Koch voiced his growing displeasure with Trump's domestic, foreign and economic policy, warning that Trump tariffs could trigger a US recession, President Trump responded on Tuesday by slamming the powerful Koch-led donor network as “globalist” and “a total joke,” rejecting the conservative group amid reports that the network was shifting away from him over trade and immigration issues.

Trump alleged that his policies have “made them richer” and that they “want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed,” while he supports the American worker. In another tweet Trump called them: “Two nice guys with bad ideas.”

"The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against strong borders and powerful trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas," Trump said in a post on Twitter.

"They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made them richer" Trump continued his angry tirade: "Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker - a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!"

Trump’s angry tweets echoed comments that Steve Bannon made a day earlier. "We don’t have time to have some theoretical discussion and to have their spokesman come out and say the president is divisive," he told Politico.

Trump’s comments followed a Bloomberg report that the Koch donor network sought to distance itself from Trump and the Republican Party at a weekend gathering in Colorado where, among other concerns were also raised that his trade policies could fuel a recession.

Charles and David Koch have been a force in American politics for decades, channeling billions of dollars into conservative causes. But the billionaire industrialist pair didn’t support Trump in the 2016 campaign, even though their network has since praised his administration’s efforts to cut taxes and regulations. More recently, it has criticized his actions on trade issues.

Trump's latest outburst is especially troubling because keeping the Koch donor network happy is important to Republicans, especially in election years.

It plans to spend about $400 million on state and federal policy and politics during the two-year cycle that culminates with November’s balloting, a 60 percent increase over 2015-16. Besides trying to influence electoral politics, the organization also works on education, criminal justice, workforce and poverty issues.

The Koch network’s decision Monday not to support Representative Kevin Cramer against Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota was cast as a warning to other Republicans who might be tempted to stray from the free-market, fiscally restrained approach backed by the Kochs and their followers. As Bloomberg noted, the decision not to back Cramer, as the network sought to put on a more bipartisan face, was announced at a briefing for more than 500 donors gathered for a three-day meeting at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We can’t support him at this time,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the network’s flagship political organization.

Heitkamp is one of 10 Senate Democrats who face re-election in November in states Trump won in 2016. While polls and analysts suggest Democrats have a strong chance of winning the 23 seats they need to gain control of the House, their odds of winning a Senate majority are much slimmer.

As we reported previously, Charles Koch, 82, the chief executive officer of Koch Industries, told reporters Sunday he worries Trump’s actions on trade and tariffs put the booming U.S. economy at risk of recession.

Yet while senior officials from the network had blamed Trump for the nation’s divisions a day earlier, Koch stopped short of that.

“We’ve had divisiveness long before Trump became president,” he said in rare on-the-record exchange with reporters. “I’m into hating the sin, not the sinner.”

That particular nuance was lost on Trump this morning, however, who just decided to launch yet another verbal war, this time with an especially powerful opponent.