Trump escalates feud with the Khans as McCain delivers scathing rebuke

Donald Trump (left) and Khizr and Ghazala Khan (Photos: David Zalubowski/J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Donald Trump (left) and Khizr and Ghazala Khan (Photos: David Zalubowski/J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The feud between Donald Trump and the family of a slain Muslim American soldier entered its fourth full day Monday, with Khizr and Ghazala Khan continuing their criticism of the Republican nominee, Trump firing back on Twitter and Arizona Sen. John McCain releasing a lengthy, scathing rebuke of Trump’s comments about the Khans.

Over a series of televised morning show interviews, the Gold Star parents of Humayun Khan — a 27-year-old U.S. Army captain who was killed by a car bomb in Iraq in 2004 — urged Republicans to refrain from voting for their party’s presidential nominee.

“We are as concerned as Donald Trump is about the safety of this country,” Khizr Khan said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday. “But we need a leader that will unite us, not disrespect, not by derogatory remarks.”

“This candidate is void of empathy,” Khizr Khan said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Trump, who is known to be an avid viewer of TV news coverage, was apparently watching.

“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same,” he tweeted. “Nice!”

“This candidate amazes me,” Khan said on NBC. “His ignorance — he can get up and malign the entire nation, the religions, the communities, the minorities, the judges and yet [as] a private citizen in this political process … I cannot say what I feel? That proves the point, he has not read the Constitution of this country. Had he read that, his behavior would be different.”

“I have exactly same rights as he does,” Khan said on CNN. “He wants to have one set of rights for himself and he wants to have another set of rights for others.”

“We want to be out of this controversy,” Khan added. “That is not our style. We are [a] decent, dignified family of this country, very appreciative of the blessings that we have enjoyed and we continue to enjoy, and we want to remain that way.”

Meanwhile, McCain became the latest GOP leader to condemn Trump’s comments about the Khans. The Arizona senator, 2008 GOP presidential nominee and famed former POW issued an impassioned statement denouncing Trump’s position.

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service,” McCain said in a statement released by his office Monday. “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.”

He continued: “In the end, I am morally bound to speak only to the things that command my allegiance, and to which I have dedicated my life’s work: the Republican Party, and more importantly, the United States of America. I will not refrain from doing my utmost by those lights simply because it may benefit others with whom I disagree.”

McCain added: “Lastly, 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.”

The war of words between Trump and the Khans began at last week’s Democratic National Convention, where Khizr Khan delivered a stinging rebuke of Trump over his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States — a policy that would have prevented his son from serving in the U.S. military.

“Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future,” Khan said. “Let me ask you? Have you even read the United States Constitution. I will gladly lend you my copy. … Look for the words liberty and equal protection of law.”

Ghazala, who stood by Khizr’s side, did not speak. In an interview last weekend with ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Trump floated the idea that Khan’s wife, Ghazala, had been forcibly silenced.

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say,” Trump said. “Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

In an op-ed for the Post published Sunday morning, Ghazala Khan wrote that she was in too much pain to speak at the convention.

“Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention,” she wrote. “He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain.”

Related: Khizr Khan: Trump has a ‘black soul’

“Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America,” Khizr Khan said onstage. “You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

Trump said he’s sacrificed plenty.

“I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump told Stephanopoulos. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve done, I’ve had … I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

“Those are sacrifices?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Oh, sure,” Trump replied. “I think they’re sacrifices.”

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager turned CNN political analyst, tried to clean things up for his old boss on Monday.

“If Donald Trump were president, Capt. Khan would be alive today because we would’ve never entered the Iraq War in the first place,” Lewandowski said. “Number two, this is something that Khan family decided to engage in by going to the Democratic convention.”

Both Khizr Khan and the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on Republican leaders to repudiate Trump’s comments.

“As the leader of America’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, I urge Donald Trump to apologize for his shameful remarks disparaging a Muslim Gold Star family and for his repeated use and promotion of anti-Muslim stereotypes,” CAIR chairman Roula Allouch said in a statement. “Just as Donald Trump must apologize for his un-American remarks, Republican Party leaders must finally repudiate their candidate’s divisive rhetoric.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to take those calls to heart — distancing themselves from the Republican nominee.

“Captain Khan was an American hero,” McConnell said in a statement, “and like all Americans I’m grateful for the sacrifices that selfless young men like Capt. Khan and their families have made in the war on terror. All Americans should value the patriotic service of the patriots who volunteer to selflessly defend us in the armed services. And as I long made clear, I agree with the Khans and families across the country that a travel ban on all members of a religion is simply contrary to American values.”

“America’s greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it,” Ryan said in a similar statement. “As I have said on numerous occasions, a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of these fundamental values. I reject it. Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”

Campaigning in Ohio, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton also condemned Trump’s remarks about the Khans.

“To have Trump do what he did, I don’t know where the bounds are,” Clinton said. “I don’t know where the bottom is.”