John McCain Condemns Trump's Attacks on Khizr Khan, Joining Other Republicans

McCain, McConnell, and Ryan release statements defending Khizr Khan's son.

ByABC News
August 1, 2016, 11:14 AM

— -- John McCain is joining the chorus of Republicans condemning Donald Trump's attacks on a slain Muslim American soldier's parents, who made an emotional case against Trump's candidacy at the Democratic National Convention.

"Arizona is watching. It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party," the Arizona senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee said in a statement. "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."

Humayun Khan, a Muslim U.S. Army captain, was killed in a suicide car bombing in Iraq in 2004. His father, Khizr Khan, spoke out against Trump at the Democratic convention, with his wife, Ghazala Khan, standing by his side.

In McCain's long and strongly worded statement, he praised Khan's service to the military and sought to distance the Republican Party from Trump's controversial remarks.

"I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement," McCain said. "I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers or candidates."

McCain's condemnation of Trump's remarks echoed sentiments expressed by Republican leadership on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan also issued statements strongly defending the Khan family.

McCain's statement went a step further than Ryan's and McConnell's, neither of whom mentioned Trump by name in their repudiation of the GOP nominee's comments.

"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," McConnell wrote.

Ryan followed with a similar response. "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," he continued. "Capt. Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period."

While both McConnell and Ryan reiterated their opposition to barring all foreign Muslims from the United States, Trump has altered his wording on his proposed policy. In his speech accepting the GOP nomination, he talked about the need to "suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism."

Khizr Khan said during his speech to the convention that Trump has "sacrificed nothing and no one." Trump responded to this claim on "This Week," telling ABC News' George Stephanopoulos he has made a lot of sacrifices for the country, including employing thousands of people. Trump insinuated that Ghazala Khan was silent during Khizr Khan's speech because of her religion.

Ghazala Khan subsequently told ABC News' Mary Bruce she did not speak at the convention because it would have been too painful.

Neither statement mentioned Trump's remarks about Ghazala Khan.

In an interview on MSNBC the day after Khizr Khan addressed the convention, he begged McConnell and Ryan — both of whom he referred to as "leaders and patriots" — to speak out against the GOP nominee, calling it a "moral imperative."

"There comes a time in the history of a nation where an ethical moral stance has to be taken, regardless of the political cost," Khan said. "The only reason they're repudiating this behavior, this threat to our democracy, our decency, our foundation, is just because of political consequences."

Two other senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who ran against Trump in the Republican primaries, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have released statements explicitly condemning Trump by name. Ayotte wrote that she is "appalled" by the way Trump "disparaged" the Khans and compared the loss of their son with his sacrifices.

Graham said that Trump's response shows why he is not fit for the presidency.

"If you're going to be leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism. Mr. Trump can't. The problem is, 'unacceptable' doesn't even begin to describe it," he said.

Maine Republican Sen. Sue Collins also tweeted about Trump's remarks, saying, "No one should criticize grieving parents who have lost a son in combat. Capt. Khan was an American hero."

ABC News' Alexander Mallin contributed reporting.

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