US President Donald Trump has slammed the Koch brothers and their powerful political operation, describing the conservative group as “globalist” and “a total joke,” amid signs of growing public tensions between the president and American business groups over tariffs and trade.
Trump’s comments on Tuesday follow news media reports that Charles and David Koch, as well as their donor network, are concerned the president’s spending plans and trade policies could fuel a recession and want to scale back support of Republican candidates.
"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. Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn,” Trump tweeted.
Ironically, Trump’s economic policies, including last year’s tax cuts for businesses, has helped wealthy American families like the Kochs become richer.
Under the Trump administration, the network has gained major policy wins, including tax cuts, deregulation and judicial nominations.
Trump acknowledged this fact in his tweet, saying he made Charles and David Koch “richer” but they were being driven by a desire to protect their companies from overseas taxes. “They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more. I made them richer.”
“They want to protect their companies outside the US 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 added.
The billionaire Koch family, which owns Koch Industries -- the second-largest privately held American company -- has become synonymous with pro-business policies, including lower taxes, less regulation and free trade.
The president's policies have been at odds with the Kochs' political arm, Americans for Prosperity. The group says it will not support Kevin Cramer, a Republican candidate running for the US Senate from the state of North Dakota.
Charles Koch told reporters in recent days that he regretted supporting some Republicans in the past who only paid lip service to GOP and conservative principles.
The Kochs are not the only business group critical of the president’s trade policies. The US Chamber of Commerce, America’s largest business lobby, has publicly criticized the billions of dollars worth of tariffs the Trump administration has targeted at China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
Trump has also escalated criticism in recent weeks of American companies that appear critical of his trade policies, including his recent threat of increasing taxes on motorcycle manufacturers Harley Davidson.