Trump blasts conservative megadonors Koch network as 'overrated'

Donald Trump

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about when the billionaire president last bought groceries or anything else himself.

The Kochs' influence has been powered by their fortunes from Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held US company with operations in a range of sectors from refining and chemicals to ranching and forest products.

The Koch brothers did not endorse Trump in 2016.

At the centre of the latest flare between the Kochs and Trump is support for Kevin Cramer, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in North Dakota against incumbent Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

On Twitter, Trump ripped the brothers for "bad ideas" and bragged: "I made them richer". Thus, the support for Heitkamp, who took on fellow Democrat Elizabeth Warren from MA and fought to roll back the regulatory measures in the Dodd-Frank regulatory apparatus.

Sanders thanked the Koch network by name. Among other things, they realized a few years ago that if they could build a grass-roots network, it would generate higher and longer-lasting political returns than just airing a bunch of ads right before every election. "We look forward to working with anyone to do so", he said.

The billionaire political activists, who pump millions into politics through a network of organizations led by Americans for Prosperity, are not supporting Republican Representative Kevin Cramer.

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The Kochs' decision nonetheless sends a strong message to Republicans that there may be real consequences for those unwilling to oppose Trump.

But in a rare interview with reporters on the sidelines of donor conference Monday, Charles discussed his dismay over the Trump administration's moves on trade, spending and immigration, including Trump's use of protectionist economic policies, including tariffs.

"It brings home how much Trump has broken with traditional Republicans", said conservative commentator William Kristol, a Trump critic.

Some Trump loyalists were furious at perceived contradictions in the Koch network's behaviour and anxious that it could complicate the president's 2020 re-election.

Trump has defended his trade policies, saying he backs free but "fair" trade to support USA workers. He contended the Kochs "love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more".

"We've had divisiveness long before Trump became president and we'll have it long after he's no longer president", he said. His younger brother, David Koch, retired from the company and network in June.

The Koch network is "raising the bar and raising expectations" of GOP lawmakers, and said Monday it will freeze its support of anyone who breaks with its views because some Republicans are taking its support for granted, The Hill reports.

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