Steve Bannon to Koch Brothers: “Get With the Program!”
The headlines came fast and furious this week when it emerged that the Koch Brothers and their political network were hammering the Trump administration and wasteful Republicans at their summit in Colorado. A representative from the network said that the donors intended to “hold accountable” Republicans who voted for the last trillion dollar+ spending bill, another lit into President Trump directly, and Charles Koch himself said he was open to supporting Democrats in the midterm elections, if their policies more closely aligned with his interests.
The most remarkable comments came from senior Koch executive Brian Hooks, who said, “The divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage. When in order to win on an issue someone else has to lose, it makes it very difficult to unite people and solve the problems in this country. You see that on trade: In order to get to a good place on trade, convince the American people that trade is bad.”
While many conservatives were appalled to hear this kind of talk from some of the biggest donors in the right wing sphere, none were more disgusted than former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. In an interview with Politico, Bannon said that now was the worst possible time for the Koch Brothers to sow dissension within the Republican Party.
“What they have to do is shut up and get with the program, okay,” he told the site. “And here’s the program: Ground game to support Trump’s presidency and program – victory on Nov. 6.”
Bannon said that regardless of how the Koch’s felt about the spending bill, they were certainly happy to crow about the tax cuts that this Congress and president delivered in February. He said that it was important to realize that the midterms would ultimately come down to a referendum of Trump, meaning this was no time to get philosophical about the minutia of conservatism.
“We can have a theoretical discussion later, okay?” Bannon said. “This is why they don’t know what it means to win. We don’t have time to have some theoretical discussion and to have their spokesman come out and say the president is divisive.
“Charles Koch is a good man,” Bannon continued, “but 100 days before an election that will determine the direction of the country is not the time to tell us that you are prepared to work with Democrats that support parts of your progressive agenda. It’s wrong, it’s stupid and it shows contempt for the hardworking grassroots folks that delivered the victory that got your tax cut.”