President Trump on Tuesday lashed out at the Koch brothers, saying their conservative political network had “become a total joke in real Republican circles” and was “highly overrated” — deepening the divide between the GOP’s donor class and its increasingly populist base at a crucial time, three months before the midterm election.
The comments, which came in a series of morning tweets, were an almost inevitable response to statements by Charles Koch, the billionaire conservative, and his aides who revealed at their annual donor conference that they would not be supporting some Republican Senate candidates who are in line with Trump’s tariff and immigration policies.
At the weekend summit, Brian Hooks, the co-chairman of the network of Koch-affiliated groups, bemoaned the “tremendous lack of leadership” in Washington and the “deterioration of the core institutions of society.”
Charles Koch, who now runs the family’s political network after the retirement of his brother David, who is ill, was somewhat more restrained, acknowledging that political polarization affected Washington and the country long before Trump entered the fray.
“We’ve had divisiveness long before Trump became president and we’ll have it long after he’s no longer president,” he told reporters Sunday. “I’m into hating the sin, not the sinner.”
“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade,” he wrote. “I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas.”
Trump added that the Kochs “love” some of his policies, including tax cuts and conservative picks for federal courts. Indeed, the industrialists did mobilize their political arm behind the GOP’s tax reform package last year, spending around $20 million to support it.
Although they have benefited from the administration’s tax cuts and deregulation efforts, the Kochs oppose Trump’s immigration and trade policies, especially tariffs.
The brothers, Trump said, are now driven by a desire to “protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed.”
“I’m for America First & the American Worker — a puppet for no one,” Trump said. “Two nice guys with bad…