Politics

Trump Goes to War With Koch Brothers

In angry tweets, president dubs conservative megadonors as ‘total joke’ after they pivoted toward bipartisan policies

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn to Marine One on Friday on their way to Joint Base Andrews. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday blasted influential conservative donors Charles and David Koch, dubbing them a “total joke” who are “against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade.”

The president’s harsh words for the powerful brothers came a day after they signaled an intention to shift away from their practice of pushing for Republican-only bills and policy solutions, saying they would seek and push bipartisan proposals, which is seen as a repudiation of Trump.

It also came a day after a conservative advocacy organization backed by the Koch brothers announced it would not support Rep. Kevin Cramer in the North Dakota Republican’s Senate bid.

Trump dubbed the duo the “globalist Koch Brothers,” drawing a distinction from his nationalist “America first” message, and philosophy that is the basis of his governing approach and leads him to constantly play to his conservative base.

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In addition to hitting the brothers on border security and trade, the president wrote he did not seek their support during the 2016 presidential campaign “because I don’t need their money or bad ideas.”

Trump, perhaps indirectly, alluded to the reasons why some Republicans voted for him two years ago and continue to support him while questioning some of his tactics and rhetoric. He contended that the Kochs “love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more.”

What’s more, he claimed in a second tweet to have made the brothers “richer” while slamming their political network as “highly overrated” because he has “beaten them at every turn.”

[Now Trump Says He Is Willing to Negotiate on Border Wall Funding]

Trump charged the Koch brothers with being solely focused on ensuring their corporations are not taxed on foreign soil, while he is “for America First and the American Worker,” describing himself as “a puppet for no one” — bringing back the line he used to counter 2016 Democratic foe Hillary Clinton’s charges that he was a “puppet” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The tweets made public a long-running fued within Republican politics between so-called establishment camps and Trump.

The president’s social media posts came after Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, said Monday at a Koch network summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that the group would not be backing Cramer because his policy positions do no align with the organization’s. Notably, the Kochs said they also will not support the incumbent in that race, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

Watch: Standing Next to Conte, Trumps Says He'll ‘Consider’ Shutdown Over Border Policy

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