Trump takes aim at Koch brothers amid clash over tariffs

President Donald Trump launched a searing Twitter attack Tuesday against the billionaire donor Koch brothers amid the group’s renewed public relations push in opposition to the president’s trade war.

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“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade,” Trump said in an early morning tweet. “I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas.”

The president also echoed an attack line he employed during the 2016 campaign, when he relentlessly criticized his GOP opponents as “puppets” for currying favor with the Koch political network.

Phelan M. Ebenhack, Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle via AP
This combination of 2013 and 2012 file photos shows brothers David, left, and Charles Koch.

“Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn,” Trump said. “They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First and the American Worker — a puppet for no one.”

Trump’s criticism of the Koch brothers followed the group’s biannual meeting over the weekend in Colorado Springs, where top officials were vocal in their criticism of the president’s protectionist trade actions and anti-immigration rhetoric.

“The divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage,” Brian Hooks, a top Koch official, told reporters at a briefing Saturday. “When in order to win on an issue somebody has to lose, it makes it very difficult to unite people.”

Charles Koch, the 82-year-old billionaire and head of the Koch political network, also told reporters tariffs implemented by the president “could” cause a recession in the U.S. if the effects are “severe enough” and suggested his group could dial back fundraising support of Republicans who don’t work to oppose the president’s unilateral trade moves.

Koch has been far from muted regarding opposition to Trump’s more isolationist rhetoric on trade and immigration dating back to the 2016 campaign.

Days after the president moved forward earlier this year with imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico, three political groups affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers announced plans to launch a multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign to tout free trade and oppose tariffs.

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