Trump rejects 'overrated' conservative Koch donor network

Officials with the powerful political network overseen by conservative billionaire Charles Koch on Monday said they do not currently plan to endorse the Republican nominee in North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer

Officials with the powerful political network overseen by conservative billionaire Charles Koch on Monday said they do not currently plan to endorse the Republican nominee in North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer

A day after the Koch brothers said they would not back the Republican in a key Senate race, Donald Trump duly took aim at the conservative billionaires, calling them a "total joke" with a "highly overrated" political network.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that the billionaire Koch brothers, who have contributed billions of dollars in support of Republican candidates over the years, have "become a total joke in real Republican circles".

Neither representatives of Koch Industries or officials from the political network responded to a request for comment.

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

Trump's public attack, following a weekend in which he was criticized at a Koch network summer meeting, comes amid speculation that the Koch brothers are reconsidering their typically full-throated support for Republican candidates during the midterm elections. Heidi Heitkamp. Heitkamp is one of the most vulnerable Democratic seats in the midterm elections and if Cramer takes her seat, it could help them keep the majority.

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On Twitter, Trump ripped the brothers for "bad ideas" and bragged: "I made them richer".

And in a variety of other ways, the Koch network remains closely aligned with the Republican agenda.

Mr Trump said on Tuesday he has "beaten them [the Kochs] at every turn". "We look forward to working with anyone to do so".

The Koch brothers (Charles' brother David recently stepped down from their company and political work because of declining health) and the other mega-rich Republicans in their network do have a couple of honest disagreements with the president.

This is not the first time Trump has clashed with Republican Party moneymen.

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Trump's policies on trade in particular have provoked ire among some Republicans, especially those in states most affected by retaliatory tariffs enacted by China, Canada, the European Union and beyond.

Withholding support for Cramer could be a fairly low-stakes political move for the network. They advocate more open immigration policies and free trade, and, like many genteel Republicans, they plainly recoil at Trump's combination of hate-mongering and buffoonishness.

"We can not support him at this time", AFP President Tim Phillips told a crowd of wealthy donors gathered at the network's bi-annual retreat in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"I don't necessarily think the Kochs splitting a little from the GOP makes it harder to fundraise", said Eberhart, who attended the Koch summit and stands by Cramer.

Mr Trump has played a role in several Republican primaries, helping candidates in Georgia, Alabama and SC in recent weeks with endorsements that underline his influence within the party. His brother, David, retired from the company earlier this year due to health concerns.

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Trump's criticisms come a day after Charles Koch told reporters that Trump's trade policies would be "disastrous."

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