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Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell distanced himself slightly from Donald Trump’s criticism of the father of an American Muslim soldier killed defending his unit in Iraq.
In a statement on Sunday, McConnell praised Khizr Khan’s family for its sacrifice despite Khan’s brutal critique of Trump’s rhetoric about veterans and previous proposal to bar all Muslims from entering the US.
“Captain Khan was an American hero, and like all Americans I’m grateful for the sacrifices selfless young men like Captain Khan and their families have made for the war on terror,” McConnell said.
“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 Khan’s and families across the country that a travel ban on members of any religion is simply contrary to American values.”
Following his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, Khan has repeatedly called on Republican leaders in Congress to denounce Trump.
Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Khan specifically singled out McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, warning them that history would “not forgive” either if they did not stand up to the real-estate magnate.
“It is their moral obligation. History will not forgive them. This election will pass, but history will not forgive them,” Khan said.
For his part, Trump has questioned the legitimacy of Khan’s arguments, asking whether the Clinton campaign wrote Khan’s speech and wondering why his wife was silent onstage at the DNC.
In a statement released Saturday evening, Trump said that while Capt. Humayun Khan was a “hero,” his father had “no right” to question Trump’s understanding of the US Constitution.
“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,” Trump said.