Gage Skidmore / Flickr Mitch McConnell...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The epic rift developing between Donald Trump cultists and the powerful Koch donor network has left GOP lawmakers downing the Rolaids between their efforts to hobble election security and confirm Brett Kavanaugh without proper review. On the one hand, you have two silver-spoon billionaires who are used to always getting their way. As the New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer aptly told NPR Tuesday, “It’s almost kind of a plutocratic pissing match, if you will, between two people who think they both should control American politics.”

On the other, you’ve got a hapless lot of Republican lawmakers willing to sell their souls to anyone to get elected, they just don’t know who to sell it to when they need both Trump’s approval and the Kochs’ money. Gee, talk about a dark night of the soul.

“These guys want to change the direction of the country. They don’t understand how hard that is,” a frustrated Sen. Mitch McConnell groused on Monday at a GOP confab on the Hill to commiserate about their predicament.

At the secret meeting, Texas Sen. John Cornyn told his colleagues how frustrated Koch donors were at a network conference last weekend over Trump’s trade and tariff wars. That’s where news of the schism first surfaced with reports that Koch network co-chair Brian Hooks had disparaged the “lack of leadership” in Washington and the “divisiveness” of Trump’s White House.

Trump predictably took the high road and responded Tuesday by trashing the Kochs as “a total joke” and adding, “I have beaten them at every turn.” Because regardless of whether Trump’s adversaries go high, low or somewhere in between, Trump always—always—goes lower.

The most immediate concrete outcome of this war of worlds is that the Kochs have so far declined to back Rep. Kevin Cramer, the Trump-backed challenger to Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a seat Republicans would desperately like to flip this November.

“They just flat-out threw him under the bus in front of this full room of people,” a Koch conference attendee told the Washington Post.

That’s left other GOP lawmakers slack-jawed. If they accept Trump’s help campaigning, will they foreclose financial help from the Kochs? Poor Republicans—it’s so hard to be a sellout when you can’t tell which bidder will give you the greatest rate of return.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. My personal bet is that in “the dark night of the soul” for Repugs, the money will win out! Cash will still be the coin of the political realm long after tRump is gone.


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