Republicans, VFW criticize Trump’s response to the Khan family (Updated)

posted at 1:31 pm on August 1, 2016 by John Sexton

A number of top Republicans are directly or implicitly criticizing Donald Trump’s statements over the weekend about the Khan family. House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement Sunday which didn’t mention Trump by name but which did defend Khizr and Ghazala Khan:

America’s greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it. 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.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a similar statement:

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. All Americans should value the patriotic service of ‎the patriots who volunteer to selflessly defend us in the armed services. And as I have 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.

Ed has already pointed out that John McCain issued a statement saying Trump’s comments did not represent the Republican Party. The Hill reports that Governor Scott Walker was also critical, though he described his comments as personal not political:

“To me, I just think about it, from my point of view, just from a personal, not even a political level. I hold Gold Star families in such reverence,” Walker told The Hill in an interview on Sunday evening at a luxury hotel bar here at summer donor retreat convened by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

“They’ve earned our respect. I would never, I don’t care what they say, you’ll never hear me question anything about a Gold Star family.”

Jeb Bush once again attacked Trump, calling his comments “incredibly disrespectful.”

Governor John Kasich also responded on Twitter:

And finally the NY Times published a story Sunday noting criticism from several other Republicans:

Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is seeking re-election, said the Khans deserved the utmost respect: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said on Sunday that Mr. Trump had crossed another inviolable line. Like his comments about Judge Curiel, Mr. Graham said, Mr. Trump’s jabs at Mr. and Ms. Khan were unacceptable. “This is going to a place where we’ve never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen,” he said.
He added, “The problem is, ‘unacceptable’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado, a Republican who served in combat as a Marine and now represents a crucial swing district in the Denver suburbs, said Mr. Trump had disrespected American troops. “Having served in Iraq, I’m deeply offended when Donald Trump fails to honor the sacrifices of all of our brave soldiers who were lost in that war,” Mr. Coffman said.

Trump issued a couple of remarks about Mr. Khan on Twitter Monday morning:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars issued a statement Monday criticizing Trump by name:

Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has a history of lashing out after being attacked, but to ridicule a Gold Star Mother is out-of-bounds, said the new national commander of the near 1.7 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary.

“Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression,” said Brian Duffy, of Louisville, Ky., who was elected July 27 to lead the nation’s oldest and largest major war veterans organization.

“There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed,” he said. “Giving one’s life to nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard.”

That last bit about the right to make their voices heard seems to be a response to Trump’s statement Saturday night in which he said Mr. Khan had, “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.”

Update: Chuck Grassley issues a statement via the Des Moines Register:

“Mr. Trump’s comments are not in line with my own beliefs about how the members of the military and their families should be treated, and respect for the people who serve our country is something both presidential campaigns could use more of,” Grassley said.

Senator Jodi Ernst also issued a statement which offered support for the Khan family without mentioning Trump by name:

“We as a nation are incredibly grateful to Captain Khan’s service and ultimate sacrifice — as well as the sacrifices of his parents — to keep us safe and free. We must always honor our veterans and their families; many have endured far more than we can ever imagine, and we must always remember to express our gratitude,” Ernst said Monday.


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