Watch: McCain to Trump: Stop Defaming Khan Family

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Donald Trump drew direct criticism from a leading Republican on Monday for upbraiding the Muslim American parents of an Army soldier killed in Iraq in 2004. But the GOP presidential nominee refused to back down from his attacks, and a former aide argued that the soldier would still be alive had Trump been president at the time.

The escalating tensions, coming at the start of the general election campaign, were the latest turns in a bitter exchange that is dominating the presidential race and has frayed Trump’s already delicate alliance with GOP leaders.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a respected figure on national security issues in the Republican Party, issued a written statement strongly rebuking Trump.

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents,” said McCain, who was taken prisoner during the Vietnam War. “He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States – to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”

McCain, who has tangled with Trump before, most notably after Trump said last year that McCain was not a war hero because he had been “captured,” added: “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

The admonishment went beyond the words of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Over the weekend, they expressed support for the Khan family and reiterated their opposition to Trump’s proposed ban on most Muslims. But neither mentioned Trump by name and neither abandoned support for the nominee.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan participated in a round of television interviews on Monday morning in which they slammed Trump. Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week, with his wife at his side. The couple’s son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed by a car bomber in 2004. He was 27.

“This candidate amazes me – his ignorance,” Khizr Khan said on NBC’s “Today.” “He can get up and malign the entire nation – the religions, the communities, the minorities, the judges. And yet, a private citizen in this political process, in his candidacy for the stewardship for this country – I cannot say what I feel? That proves the point: He has not read the Constitution of this country.”

Ghazala Khan, who teared up in one interview, rejected Trump’s suggestion in an interview with ABC News that she may not have been “allowed” to speak during her Democratic National Convention appearance.

“It doesn’t have to do anything with my religion,” she said on “Today.” She wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that she is still experiencing raw emotions about her son’s death and could not bring herself to speak at the convention.

Trump took to Twitter on Monday morning to lash out against Khizr Khan and the media. He argued that “radical Islamic terrorism,” not Khan, should be the focus of his exchange – just minutes after slamming Khan.

“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same – Nice!” Trump said in his initial tweet.

On Saturday, Trump issued a statement saying, “While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things.”

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, defended his ex-boss on Monday and argued that the Khans’ son would still be alive if Trump had been president.

“Their son is a hero. And every person who has ever died fighting for our country and their families are heroes,” Lewandowski said on CNN, which employs him as a paid contributor. “The difference is, we’ve got 7,000 soldiers who died, $6 trillion wasted in wars overseas and, if Donald Trump was the president, we would never have had, and Captain Khan would be alive today.”

Trump regularly casts himself as an early critic of the Iraq War. The Post’s Fact Checker found that there is “no sign that Trump opposed the invasion or was vocal about it prior to the invasion.”

Lewandowski was fired by Trump in June.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has vigorously defended the Khans. She tweeted a link to Ghazala Khan’s op-ed on Sunday night with the words: “Your courage is inspiring, Mrs. Khan – and you’re right.”

Family members of 17 service members killed in the line of duty wrote a letter to Trump calling his comments about the Khan family “repugnant” and demanding an apology. The letter was coordinated by Karen Meredith of the group VoteVets, which is aligned with Democratic candidates.

Late Sunday, Trump supporters, including longtime adviser Roger Stone, circulated unsubstantiated accusations from an anti-Islam website about Khizr Khan. Stone tweeted a link to a post that, among other things, accuses Khan of being a “Muslim Brotherhood agent who wants to advance sharia law.”

Both Khans forcefully denounced terrorism on Sunday, and Ghazala Khan said Trump is ignorant when it comes to understanding Muslims. “If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion,” she wrote.

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Sean Sullivan 



  1. “I’d like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We’re a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation – and he will never be forgotten.”
    Nailed it.

  2. Ask not what you can do to defame your country. Do just defamation of your own fellow-man.

    Seems to be a good creed.

    Anyone voting for Trump?


  3. McCain is a great American patriot. But he is not a real conservative. And he lost an election so he really doesnt have much say in this conversation.


  4. This issue should never have been politicized at all but since it has, in the interest of fairness please read what a US Veteran has to say. It is a bit long but well written and directly on point.

    Dear Mr. Khan,

    I want to preface this letter by stating that I respect your son’s sacrifice for this great nation. By all accounts, he is a true hero that sacrificed himself in service to our country. For that I am thankful.

    As a veteran, I watched your comments at the Democratic National Convention with a mixture of sadness, and anger. The United States has a military comprised of volunteers. Every single member has made the conscious choice to join the military and serve. There is not a single service member who has been forced into service. It is important for all service members (and apparently, their families) to understand that service to this great nation does not imbue one with special privileges or rights. I found your comments troubling when you said: “Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

    Does it matter whether Mr. Trump has sacrificed “…nothing and no one?”…has Ms. Clinton “..sacrificed” for this nation? How about Mr. Obama? Your comment stating that Mr. Trump “…has sacrifice no one” is alarming. Are you intimating that YOU sacrificed? Sir, your son willingly sacrificed himself. As a father I cannot imagine the pain you must feel but his sacrifice is his own. He was not forced to serve.

    I am troubled that you would allow a party that has little more than contempt for the US Service Member to parade you into the DNC to denounce Donald Trump. Did you watch when protesters at the DNC booed and heckled Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Florent Groberg? Did you notice your party interrupting the moment of silence for slain police officers? Your own hypocrisy in not denouncing these acts and instead using the DNC as a platform to make a political point is disgraceful. The simple fact is that whether one served or sacrificed does not give greater power to their statements. One vote is as valuable as another. That sir, is why our Country is great. Your condemnation of one person for a statement while standing idly as your party disparages veterans and police officers is the height of hypocrisy.

    To conflate the need to prevent potential terrorists from entering our country with the belief that ‘all Muslims’ should be banned is simply wrong and disingenuous. As a reminder, Mr. Trump said: ” “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life,” The irony of your son’s own death at the hands of these very people in Iraq should not be ignored. I have little doubt that your son would have recognized the need to protect our country from these very people. In fact, he held is own troops back so that he could check on a suspicious car. Your son understood sacrifice and how to protect “his people”…’his soldiers’….’his fellow Americans’…

    As you continue to make the media circuit and bask in the glow of affection cast upon you by a party that has little regard for your son’s own sacrifice, and veterans in general, I would ask you to consider your comments and your position more closely.


    Chris Mark

    US Marine and Navy Veteran.

  5. Mr Mcain – I didn’t hear you mention the FOUR AMERICANS MURDERED UNDER HILLIARY”S & OBAMA”S WATCH

    what about them – was it just a movie or video or did it really happen????

  6. Mr Khan Jr, like many other colleagues of his, enrolled in order to get a well-paying job with his qualifications. It is a risky job, and sadly he lost his life, I suppose his family received adequate compensation. Then Mr Khan Sr was annoyed at comments about Muslims by a presidential candidate and spoke up his opinionated mind, which was given vast echo by the media and especially by Trump’s enemies. This is IMHO all there is to it. Also, in my modest opinion, a hero is someone that donates a kidney or lands an aircraft on the Hudson River or advances surgery or in other ways saves human lives.

  7. Dear Senator (and Capt.) McCain,
    I am the daughter of an Army General, (Ret). I’ve maintained my silence out of respect for you and this country. But… I can do so no longer!!!

    Mrs. Clinton is NO FRIEND of the military! She is NO FRIEND of the principles on which this country was founded!
    Mrs. Clinton knows exactly what she is doing, and YOU are feeding her message!!! I BEG of you, Sen. McCain, please… PLEASE, STAND UP!!!

    Does Trump know the “right” political statement to say… well, apparently not. But… try NOT to be manipulated by Mrs. Clinton’s 33 years of professional, polished statements… and (most importantly) the Media’s relentless manipulation and “play” of Trump’s inexperience. Trump wants to keep the principles on which this country grew to be a Superpower… Clinton does NOT!

    Dear G-d… DEAR G-D… PLEASE look upon this country with your grace!!!

    When I see a soldier (a hero… a POW… anyone… anyone who knows anything about the sacrifices made for INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM)… When I see a soldier become the Pawn of a movement that rejoices in seeing the death of a solider (“No More War” Progressives)… I AM SPEECHLESS and BREATHLESS!!!

    Please… PLEASE… fight against the Progressive Movement!


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