Republican Establishment Distances Itself From Trump’s Comments on Khan Family

By Steven Klett, Epoch Times
August 1, 2016 Updated: August 1, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is in a feud with the parents of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq, leading members of the party establishment to split with the candidate over his remarks.

“I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement,” John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement following remarks by Trump about Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

“I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates,” McCain said.

The couple had spoken at the Democratic National Convention about their Muslim-American son Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in Bagdad in 2004, where Khizr Khan had criticized Trump for discriminating against Muslims.

“Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?” Khan said at the convention, after which he took out a pocket-version of the constitution, saying “I will gladly lend you my copy.”

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Trump questioned why the wife of Khan, who stood next to him throughout his speech at the DNC convention, had not spoken.

“She was standing there, she had nothing to say,” he said, “She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

In a statement, Trump also said that Khizr Khan had “no right” to criticize him over his knowledge of the Constitution.

The feud continued Monday morning as the Khan family appeared on several news stations, while Trump tweeted that Captain Khan is a hero but that the news story is not about the family, but about radical Islamic terrorism in the United States.  

“This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM and the U.S. Get smart!” Trump tweeted. 

He also said that the father “viciously attacked” him at the DNC.

Party standard-bearers in the Republican establishment have also come out with statements supporting the Khan family, neglecting to mention Trump by name, choosing to subtly repudiate the comments passively.

“Captain Khan was an American hero, 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,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement Sunday. “All Americans should value the patriotic service of the patriots who volunteer to selflessly defend us in the armed services.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also focused on the sacrifices of Muslim Americans in the military and didn’t engage with Trump’s comments directly. 

“Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Ryan said Sunday afternoon. “Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice—and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan—should always be honored. Period.”

Democrats were dissatisfied with the comments by their Republican counterparts. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the statements “spineless,” and said that “anything short of revoking their endorsements is cowardice,” according to a report by The Hill

Trump’s Vice President nominee Mike Pence, tried to calm the storm, issuing a statement that praised the Khan family.

“Donald Trump and I believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American,” Pence said in a statement on Facebook.”Captain Khan gave his life to defend our country in the global war on terror.”

He then went on to defend Trump’s call to suspend immigration. 

“By suspending immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, rebuilding our military, defeating ISIS at its source and projecting strength on the global stage, we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family,” Pence continued.

Top Trump ally, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) also defended Trump’s attacks on the Khan family, echoing Pence, and focusing on the importance of stopping potential terrorists into this country.