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Khizr Khan, Donald Trump trade barbs over Khan’s DNC speech

Khizr Khan, with his wife, Ghazala, the parents

Khizr Khan, with his wife, Ghazala, the parents of slain Muslim-American soldier Humayun Khan, directly addressed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 28, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

The father of a slain Muslim-American U.S. Army captain, after delivering an emotional Democratic National Convention speech mourning his son, traded barbs Sunday with Donald Trump, challenging the GOP presidential nominee’s criticism of his speech.

“He is a black soul, and this is totally unfit for the leadership of this country,” Khizr Khan, whose son Humayun died in a 2004 suicide bomb attack in Iraq, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Khan was continuing his case of Trump as divisive with his unconstitutional policy proposals — a theme of his speech Thursday in Philadelphia that seized the nation’s attention. Khan’s wife on Sunday condemned an insinuation by Trump that she had stood silently by her husband onstage because her Muslim faith doesn’t encourage her to speak up.

Ghazala Khan wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post that she couldn’t bring herself to speak.

“I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. ... Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could?” she wrote. “Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I could not speak?”

Trump defended remarks he had made against the Khans with a tweet Sunday morning: “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 had addressed Ghazala Khan in an ABC News interview. “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say,” he said. “She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

Trump also fired back at Khizr Khan for a poignant line about sacrifices in the grieving father’s DNC speech.

Khan, who had urged voters to back Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, recounted his son’s death as he told Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

Trump responded, “Did Hillary’s script writers write it? I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard.” The real estate mogul added, “I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures.”

His campaign said Trump wasn’t comparing his sacrifices to that of the Khans. It sent a statement acknowledging Humayun Khan as a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice and added, “The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him.”

Khizr Khan said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he appreciated Trump calling his son a hero but regarded the remark as “disingenuous” amid proposals such as a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

Clinton, who campaigned Sunday in Ohio, addressed the controversy with reporters in Ashland.

“To launch an attack as he did on Captain Khan’s mother, a Gold Star mother, who stood there on that stage with her husband honoring the sacrifice of their son, I don’t know where the bounds are,” she said. “I don’t know where the bottom is.”

GOP leaders issued statements Sunday that honored Humayun Khan and condemned Trump’s proposed ban anew but did not mention the candidate by name. Khan had called on Republican leaders to repudiate Trump’s comments.

“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-Kentucky) wrote, calling the ban “simply contrary to American values.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said he rejects a religious test to enter the country and wrote of Khan, “His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”

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