As massive protests continue to take place across the nation since Trump’s inauguration, a very different kind of resistance was shaping up at a manicured golf resort in Palm Springs, CA. One that may soon prove more disruptive to Trump’s ambitions than any of the liberal protests filling the streets.
According to a report by Time Magazine, billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, perhaps the most influential free-market activist in the nation, stood before 550 like-minded donors to declare his intention to fight key policies of President Donald Trump. “We cannot be partisan,” he said as his guests sipped wine at the luxury retreat. “We can’t say, ‘O.K., this is our party, right or wrong.'”
Aside from his own self-destructive behavior, Koch’s call to action may be the biggest threat to Donald Trump and his chaotic administration. That’s because the Koch network has for years been among the biggest and most successful spenders in Republican politics. With a budget of up to $400 million for the next two years, these deep-pocketed patrons now plan to fight Trump where they think he is wrong. And their list of objections is long.
The wealthy conservative opposes Trump’s plans for new border taxes to incentivize American production, as well as his recent ban on refugees and immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries.
“That border tax would be a catalyst to a Great Depression'” Denver-based energy CEO and Koch ally Chris Wright said.
Koch allies also expressed dismay at Trump’s pattern of calling out corporate leaders by name in tweets.
The bombshell report comes following several days of street protests and sinking approval rating for the Trump administration and Republicans in general.
This is bad news for Republican members of Congress, whom Trump will need to pass his agenda. As Time notes, the same activist organizations, campaign bankrolls and election-data systems that Koch used to help them get elected could be turned off or directed against them to fund primary challenges in the 2018 election.
“Our secret sauce, so to speak,” said Mark Holden, a longtime Koch lieutenant, “is the accountability play.” Put another way: Stand with Trump at your own peril, Republicans. No one, not even House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Koch favorite, is exempt.
The Koch resistance could tap into the party’s grassroots volunteers under Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group with millions of activists and staff in 36 states. The group played a key role in helping organize the Tea Party in 2010 and could turn against its own now.
In the eyes of the Koch army, its members are the last line of resistance against an unstable leader driving the country off the cliff.