Trump says Koch brothers are 'total joke' in GOP

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

Koch Brothers Group Says They Won't Be Backing Kevin Cramer in His Senate Race Against Heidi Heitkamp

The announcement marks a new chapter in the strained relationship between the Trump administration and the expanding conservative network created by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who refused to endorse the Republican president in 2016.

"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 have beaten them at every turn".

The Koch-backed network also said it would not support the Republican challenger to Democratic US Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who is facing re-election, according to the Washington Post.

Donald Trump enters the RNC to deliver a speech in Cleveland.

Also, the only people who really matter in this race are North Dakota voters, and how do we expect them to react to this news? And to be clear, we've met with his team, explained this, and lobbied him on this to change their ways. They did not financially back Trump in 2016, though they did spend to support down-ballot races and remain very much a force in Senate and House contests.

Trump, perhaps indirectly, alluded to the reasons why some Republicans voted for him two years ago and continue to support him while questioning some of his tactics and rhetoric. "The success of the tax cuts and the importance of the Supreme Court energizes GOP donors to keep the Senate in Republican hands".

Trump alleged that his policies have "made them richer" but that they "want to protect their companies outside the US from being taxed" while he supports the American worker. Still, it was enough to get a rebuke from Steve Bannon, who said, "What they have to do is shut up and get with the program, OK?" in an interview with Politico.

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Withholding support for Cramer could be a fairly low-stakes political move for the network.

The Koch network largely ignored the criticism.

In the clearest sign of an about-face at the Libertarian-leaning Koch network, the billionaires funded a study that found that a medicare-for-all plan by Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders would save the USA $2 trillion over the course of a decade.

Against an overall trend of rising employment, some sectors of the economy have felt the heat of Trump's trade war already.

It's the first such meeting after the June retirement of David Koch - the other half of the "Koch brothers" who have become household names - from business and political life because of his declining health.

Tom Shepherd, a businessman from OH and Koch donor, said: "I think that holding Republicans and Democrats accountable for decisions and votes that violate our principles is extremely helpful". "I'm into hating the sin and not the sinner".

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