Billionaire industrialist, who addressed donors at luxury Colorado resort, will not support Trump as he and brother David look to GOP Senate races

The billionaire Charles Koch on Sunday said rumours he would support Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election were a blood libel. The industrialist will not support Donald Trump either.

At this point I cant support either candidate, but Im certainly not going to support Hillary, Koch told hundreds of donors in a luxury hotel at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, at a semiannual policy and fundraising event.

The use of the phrase blood libel is fraught with problems: the Anti-Defamation League defines it as a centuries-old false allegation that Jews murder Christians especially Christian children to use their blood for ritual purposes, such as an ingredient in the baking of Passover matzah (unleavened bread).

Its use has landed US political figures in trouble before: in 2011, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin used it against critics of her rhetoric about Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded in a mass shooting in which six people died.

Koch has already used strongly symbolic language in discussing the 2016 election. In April, he told ABC News a Trump suggestion about a database of Muslims was reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

I mean, thats monstrous, he said.

In the same interview, Koch hinted that he could in fact support Clinton in the race for the White House.

We would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric, he said. But on some of the Republican candidates before we could support them, wed have to believe their actions will be quite different than the rhetoric weve heard so far.

Asked if he could imagine Clinton as a preferable president over Trump or Senator Ted Cruz, who finished second in the Republican primary, Koch said: Let me put it that way: its possible.

On Sunday, the 80-year-old described his policy and political networks first priority as to preserve the countrys financial future, and to eliminate corporate welfare.

Since it appears that neither presidential candidate is likely to support us in these efforts, he said, were focused on maximizing the number of principled leaders in the House and Senate who will.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a major player in the vast Koch network, said: We think we can be most effective working on the Senate. Were not engaged on the presidential.

The three-day Koch donors conference ends on Monday. On Saturday, Trump whose VP pick, Mike Pence, canceled a scheduled appearance at the event wrote on Twitter: I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch. Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!

Among the puppets of politics who did address the estimated 400 donors gathered in Colorado Springs were at least three governors, four senators and four members of the House of Representatives, including the House speaker, Paul Ryan.

The Utah senator Mike Lee, like the Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin, and the Arizona governor, Doug Ducey, avoided discussion of the presidential election during panel discussions. Other Republicans scheduled to appear include the Wisconsin governor, former presidential candidate and sometime Koch favourite Scott Walker, the Texas senator John Cornyn, the South Carolina senator Tim Scott, and the representatives Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Mike Coffman of Colorado.

Koch and his brother David, 76, have spent billions of dollars to elect Republicans, shape state and national legislation and advance their own libertarian-tinged agenda. They have hosted donor gatherings for years, usually in private. This weekends event included a small number of reporters, including one from the Associated Press.

Koch has put the networks budget at roughly $750m through the end of 2016. A significant portion was supposed to help elect a Republican to the White House but this weekend Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice-president of Koch Industries, said it would instead go to helping GOP Senate candidates in at least five states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin and Florida.

The network has dedicated $42m so far to television and digital advertising to benefit such candidates, Holden said.

Holden also rejected Trumps dire warnings about crime and the need for law and order.

Were much safer, Holden said. Thats what the data shows.

Read more: www.theguardian.com