U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday took to Twitter to ridicule two long-time wealthy Republican political donors, Charles and David Koch, after the billionaire industrialists lashed out at him for imposing tariffs on foreign imports and not controlling the government’s burgeoning long-term debt.
The Kochs, whose Koch Industries manufacture a wide array of industrial and consumer products, have long funded conservative, mostly Republican, candidates in the United States, but sat out the 2016 presidential contest in which Trump won the White House over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The brothers — Charles, 82, and David, 78 — favor limited government with minimal regulation and free trade. They are expected to spend $300 million to $400 million supporting candidates they favor in the nationwide November 6 congressional elections, in which the entire 435-member House of Representatives and a third of the 100-member Senate are being contested.
But Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese, European, Canadian and Mexican imports is at odds with the Kochs’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity.
Charles Koch told reporters in recent days he cared little for party affiliation and said he regretted supporting some Republican candidates in the past because he said they had not followed through on claims they supported conservative principles.
“We’re going to be much stricter if they say they’re for the principles we espouse and then they aren’t,” he said. “We’re going to more directly deal with that and hold people responsible for their commitments.”
In the November contests, the Koch political network has withheld financial support for several Republican candidates that Trump is backing in an effort to maintain Republican control of both chambers of Congress.