July 28, 2021

Why Donald Trump declared war on the wealthy Koch brothers

6:05 p.m., August 6, 2018

A few weeks before the mid-term elections which will redraw his majority in Congress, Donald Trump is going to war against the main donors of the Republican Party: the Koch brothers. After having suffered criticism from these two billionaires of 78 and 82 years, opposed to his economic policy, the American president replied on Twitter at the end of July. “The Koch brothers, globalists who have become a total joke in Republican circles, are opposed to Strong Borders and Powerful Trade,” quipped Donald Trump. “Their network is very overrated, I beat them whenever the opportunity arose.” A daring exit when the Republican candidates go in search of funding for their respective campaigns.

Founded by Fred C. Koch in the 1940s before being taken over by his sons, Koch Industries, a chemical company, made the Kochs the second richest family in the United States. A heritage that two of the Patriarch’s four sons, David and Charles, used to promote their ideas across the country. If David Koch ran for the vice-presidency of the United States in 1980 on behalf of the Libertarian Party, it is in the shadows that the two brothers have woven one of the most powerful networks in the country, today essential to Republican candidates who are launching a campaign.

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Two brothers hostile to Trump’s tariffs

David and Charles Koch are opposed to Donald Trump’s economic policies.

(Sipa)

In 2016, however, the Koch brothers did not support Donald Trump. Between him and Hillary Clinton, it was like choosing between “cancer and a heart attack,” Charles said. It is therefore on the mid-term elections that the two brothers decided to concentrate their expenses. In January, they announced their donations are expected to reach $ 400 million. But while they had supported the US president’s tax reform, which granted massive corporate tax cuts, they have since disagreed deeply with White House policies.

The reason for the wrath of the two Kansas billionaires is Donald Trump’s decision to increase tariffs on a whole series of imports: “There are better ways to negotiate trade treaties than by punishing consumers and American companies with higher costs, “joked in June the influence group Americans for Prosperity, created in 2004 by the Kochs. The immigration policy of the American president, criticized at all levels of the American political spectrum, is also in the crosshairs of the two billionaires.

A risky bet for Donald Trump

By attacking the two kingmakers of American politics, is Donald Trump shooting himself in the foot? “The great divider has finally succeeded in reuniting. Billionaires do not like him, nor his politics and the way he behaves,” analysis for CNN Bradley Honan, a former adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton. The American president must indeed face a completely new coalition of billionaires, made up of major Democratic donors, such as Tom Steyer or Michael Bloomberg, and in the Republican camp, the Koch brothers, who will not give him any gifts.

Last week, Charles Koch warned he would be uncompromising with Republican candidates who failed to defend their very liberal view of free trade. Those who are most in agreement with Donald Trump’s economic decisions, in short. “I regret having supported certain members of Congress,” he said, assuring that a candidate’s party would no longer be decisive in his choice to support him financially or not. In North Dakota, a state that largely voted Trump in 2016, the Kochs will not support Republican Kevin Cramer, opposed to outgoing Senator Heidi Heitkamp, ​​considered until then one of the Democrats most in danger.

Capitalize on anti-elite sentiment

“If you are a Republican who sits on the commission that drafted the worst finance bill in our country’s history and you voted for it […], we will hold you accountable, “warned Emily Seidel, of Americans for Prosperity. According to some observers quoted by CNN, the Koch brothers would not look down on a more divided Congress, which would force Republicans to tighten around of their traditional values. A strategy that boils supporters of Donald Trump, like his former adviser Steve Bannon: “They should be content to close it down and support the program [de Trump]”, he declared at the end of last week.

The American president, who is playing big in November, therefore took the bull by the horns. His frontal attack on the Koch brothers may be risky, but it is fully in line with his anti-elite and anti-establishment fight undertaken since 2016. “A billionaire who fights others can attract strong popular support. no American politician is better than Trump to capitalize on the anti-elite sentiments of his base, ”analyzes political adviser Bill Hillsman for CNN. Answer on November 6.