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Ryan, McConnell Respond to Khans' Call to Repudiate Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) attend a ceremony in the Capitol's Rayburn Room on July 14, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

In his first remarks after calling out Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq called on GOP leaders to distance themselves from the Republican presidential nominee.

Khizr Khan told MSNBC on Friday that he had a “second half” of the speech, aimed at Congress instead of Trump.

“What a patriot, what a decent human being, what a leader he is,” Khan described Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “And then Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, leading the majority in the United States Congress House of Representatives. What a patriot, decent human being he is.”

“Isn’t this time to repudiate Trump, what he has said?” Khan said, addressing the two GOP leaders. “What he has threatened to do? This is a moral imperative for both leaders to say to him ‘that’s enough.’ You are about to sink the ship of the patriot Republicans. Republicans are as patriotic as Democrats are. They’re half of the goodness of this beautiful country, half of this political process that the rest of the world watches enviously, learns from it.”

“They have disagreed with his practices, his threats to minorities, disrespect to the legal system and legal institutions. I want to ask them, ‘If your candidate wins and he governs the way he has campaigned, this country, my country will have constitutional crises like never before in the history of this country,'” he continued. “There is too much at stake and I appeal to both of these leaders. There comes a time in the history of a country when a moral stand must be taken, regardless of the political cost.”

On CNN Sunday, Khan noted that Trump had promised GOP leadership “to mend his ways, divisive ways, harmful way, hurtful manner and policies — yet he comes back again on the same thing. ”

“It is their moral obligation. History will not forgive them. This election will pass, but history will be written. The lapse of moral courage will hold them, will remain burdened on their souls, on their leadership,” he said.

Ryan said in a statement Sunday that “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,” Ryan said. “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.”

McConnell issued a statement of his own, stressing “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.”

Trump told ABC on Sunday that Khan “doesn’t know” if a President Trump would have allowed the family in the country or not, as the soldier’s father charged during his DNC speech.

“I saw him. He was, you know, very emotional. And probably looked like — a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there. 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,” Trump said. “She was extremely quiet and looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that. And personally, I watched him. I wish him the best of luck.”

Ghazala Khan, who told MSNBC she was too choked up by the sight of her son’s photo on the large DNC video screen to say anything, fired back in a Washington Post op-ed: “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,” she wrote.

“I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!” Trump tweeted Sunday, followed by another tweet this morning: “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 – Nice!”

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), emphasized in a statement this morning that “service to our country is above politics.”

“I am dismayed at the attacks Khizr and Ghazala Khan have endured after they spoke about their son’s service and sacrifice,” Thornberry said. “There is never enough honor we can show to the families of those whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I believe that each of us are called every day to show our deepest respect and gratitude to all of those who protect our freedom and their families.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement the length of an average newspaper column stressing “the Republican Party I know and love is the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.”

“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. 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,” McCain said.

Recalling the final moments of the soldier who got his subordinates out of harm’s way before confronting a suicide bomber in 2004, McCain said: “Captain Humayun Khan of the United States Army showed in his final moments that he was filled and motivated by this love. His name will live forever in American memory, as an example of true American greatness.”

“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. Arizona is watching. 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.”