Republican Lawmakers Scramble To Balance Trump-Koch Dispute

UNITED STATES - JULY 31: From left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. John Thune, R-S. Dak., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, hold their press confer... UNITED STATES - JULY 31: From left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. John Thune, R-S. Dak., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, hold their press conference following the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) MORE LESS
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August 1, 2018 8:14 a.m.

Republican Senators met privately on Monday to quietly contemplate how to respond to the feud that’s emerged between the mega donor Koch network and President Donald Trump, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

According to Republicans familiar with the discussions who spoke to the Post, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other GOP lawmakers discussed the Koch network’s recent gathering, in which officials criticized Trump’s trade policy and divisiveness, and told attendees that it would support candidates based on values and not political affiliation. Cornyn, who reportedly attended the conference, told those gathered that he was confronted with widespread exasperation with Trump and his policies at the event. In the private meeting, some lawmakers also expressed confusion over the Koch network’s new approach.

“These guys want to change the direction of the country. They don’t understand how hard that is,” McConnell reportedly said.

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In response to the Koch officials’ criticism — which was not outright surprising, given the network pointedly did not endorse Trump in 2016 — Trump tore the group of “globalist” donors apart on Twitter Tuesday and suggested  that he had made them “richer.”

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