John McCain releases statement on Trump's feud with Khan family

Win McNamee

John McCain

Win McNamee
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) listens as Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee March 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. Military leaders testified on recent events around the globe and budgeting decisions for the coming fiscal year. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Rep. Sen. and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain has spoken out after Donald Trump's comments on Khizr Khan's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

"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...

"My sons serve today, and I'm proud of them. My youngest served in the war that claimed Capt. Khan's life as well as in Afghanistan. I want them to be proud of me. I want to do the right thing by them and their comrades.

"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 important, 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. I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the final judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.

"It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party. 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."

During his speech on Thursday, Khan challenged Trump's knowledge of American politics: "Have you even read the United States Constitution?" he asked.

The Pakistani immigrant, whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, died in the Iraq war, said his son would never have had the opportunity to serve his country under a Trump administration. 

"Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America," Khan said. "If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America."

Trump responded to Khan's comments with messages on Twitter and in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

"His wife … if you look at his wife, she was standing there," Trump said. "She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me. But plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet, and it looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that."

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"America's greatness is built on the principles of liberty and preserved by the men and women who wear the uniform to defend it," U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a 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. Capt. Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice -- and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan -- should always be honored. Period." 

Khan said his wife, Ghazala Khan, did not speak because "she was just totally emotionally spent" and because she has high blood pressure and didn't want to speak for fear she wouldn't be able to "hold herself together" discussing her Gold Star son on stage, CNN reported. She also said she ididn't speak because she was "very nervous."

"Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention," Ghazala Khan wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post. "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. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart." 

"I'd like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: Thank you for immigrating to America," McCain said in his statement. "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."

McCain, who was a prisoner of war for more than five years during the Vietnam War, was repeatedly tortured during captivity and spent two of those years in solitary confinement. His father and grandfather served as career naval officers.

"He's not a war hero," Trump said of McCain 2015. "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."

Khizr Khan said Thursday that Trump hadn’t sacrificed anything for his country.

>> Click here to watch Khan's speech

"I think I've made a lot of sacrifices," Trump said in response. "I've worked very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs ... I think when I can employ thousands and thousands of people, take care of their education, take care of so many things. Even the military. I mean, I was very responsible along with a group of people for getting the Vietnam Memorial built in downtown Manhattan, which to this day people thank me for ... I raised and I have raised millions of dollars for the vets."

"Ours is a sacrifice you will never know. Ours is a sacrifice we would never want you to know," Gold Star families wrote in a letter published on "Your recent comments regarding the Khan family were repugnant and personally offensive to us ... When you say your job building buildings is akin to our sacrifice, you are attacking our sacrifice. You are not just attacking us, you are cheapening the sacrifice made by those we lost. You are minimizing the risk our service members make for all of us."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also released a statement. 

"Capt. 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," McConnell's statement read. "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." 

>> #TrumpSacrifices sweeps social media after controversial comments about Khan family

"Capt. Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe," Trump wrote in a statement released Saturday."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. If I become president, I will make America safe again." 

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