Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon slammed libertarian megadonor Charles Koch and leaders of his political network in a scathing interview with Politico, telling the billionaire to “shut up and get with the program.”
Bannon lashed out Sunday after Koch Network representatives sharply criticized President Donald Trump and his supporters for creating a toxic division in America and for destructive “protectionist” trade policies.
“What they have to do is shut up and get with the program,” Bannon told the publication. “Here’s the program: Ground game to support Trump’s presidency and program, [and] victory on Nov. 6.”
Bannon said the Koch Network — which didn’t support Trump in the presidential election — doesn’t know how to win. And he argued that voters aren’t interested in the group’s free trade philosophy, and support Trump’s economic “populism” instead.
“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.”
The annual Koch Network summit over the weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado, drew about 500 donors who have each pledged a minimum of $100,000 to back the organization’s issues and candidates.
Charles Koch said in a rare interview Sunday that the political network is so disappointed in certain unnamed Washington actors that the group may cut its contributions in some cases. The billionaire industrialist also said he might be open to working with Democrats.
Koch Network spokesman James Davis responded to Bannon’s comments, saying the group is focused on “uniting the country to help remove barriers that are preventing people from reaching the potential.” The group “looks forward to working with “Trump, Congress and communities whenever possible to help people improve their lives,” Davis told Politico.