Tuesday, August 02, 2016

TRUMP NOT - Unapologetic Sleazebag

"‘SACRIFICE' DEBATE INTENSIFIES" by Sean Sullivan, San Diego Union-Tribune 8/2/2016

NOTE:  This is from the online edition of the newspaper, so no article link.

Republican lawmakers and veterans groups hastened to disavow Donald Trump's repeated criticism of a bereaved military family Monday, but the GOP presidential nominee refused to back down.  He complained anew that he had been “viciously attacked” by the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq.  The condemnations by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and dozens of veterans and family members of those killed in the line of duty served as the most forceful rebuke yet of the nominee's comments and his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The critiques lobbed at Trump on Monday were the latest turns in a bitter exchange that has dominated the presidential race since the close of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday in Philadelphia.  It threatens to hurt Trump's standing among voters he has been aggressively pursuing: those who aren't fans of Democrat Hillary Clinton and who hold doubts about her record on national security.  The standoff has also frayed Trump's already delicate alliance with GOP leaders.

Trump did not address the controversy directly during a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday afternoon.  But he signaled on Twitter earlier in the day that he was not backing down from his criticism of Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, was killed by a car bomber in Iraq in 2004.  Trump said Khizr Khan had “no right” to assail him as he did in a speech at the Democratic convention Thursday.

McCain, a respected figure on national security issues in the Republican Party, issued a written statement sternly reprimanding Trump.  “In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier's parents,” said McCain, who was taken prisoner during the Vietnam War.  “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, who has tangled with Trump before, most notably after Trump said last year that McCain was not a war hero because he had been “captured,” added: “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.”

Aside from McCain, a bipartisan coalition of veterans, family members of military personnel killed in the line of duty, a veteran serving in Congress and a former diplomat sent a letter to Trump calling his criticism of the Khans an affront to each of them.  It also called for him to apologize.

“Your statements are unacceptable, especially from someone seeking to serve as Commander in Chief,” the letter said.  “The Khans' sacrifice has earned them the right to ask hard questions of those seeking elected office.”

Brian Duffy, the commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, released a statement saying that the organization “will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression.”

Duffy added that “there are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed.”

Some Trump allies fought back hard Monday against the criticism the nominee has faced over his remarks about the Khans.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, argued that the Khans' son would still be alive if Trump had been president.

“Their son is a hero.  And every person who has ever died fighting for our country and their families are heroes,” Lewandowski said on CNN, which employs him as a paid contributor.  “The difference is, we've got 7,000 soldiers who died, $6 trillion wasted in wars overseas, and if Donald Trump was the President, we would never have had, and Captain Khan would be alive today.”

Trump regularly casts himself as an early critic of the Iraq War.  The Washington Post's Fact Checker found that there is “no sign that Trump opposed the invasion or was vocal about it prior to the invasion.”

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said McCain's response to Trump was probably motivated by the longtime senator's anxiety over his re-election race in Arizona.

“I think you're hearing a guy who's worried about whether he can be re-elected in Arizona,” Giuliani said in an interview with the Post.  “John wouldn't be saying this if he were running two years from now.  He'd just keep his mouth shut.”

On Twitter on Monday morning, Trump lashed out again at Khizr Khan and the media.  He argued that “radical Islamic terrorism,” not Khan, should be the focus of the exchange— just minutes after slamming Khan.

“Mr.  Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same — Nice!”  Trump said in his initial tweet.

James Waters, a former George W. Bush administration White House aide and Navy SEAL, was among the 40 who signed the bipartisan letter to Trump.  He is a Republican, but he is not voting for his party's nominee.

“I think this situation speaks quite well to Trump's blatant lack of fitness for office,” Waters said.

At his campaign stop in Columbus, Trump pledged to take good care of veterans and steered clear of the firestorm over his recent comments.  Attendees had their own opinions on the matter.

Josh Smith, 53, of Keystone Heights, Fla., said that he served in the Navy for 20 years and that he did not find Trump's comments about the Khans to be distasteful.  “It was bad that their son died, but to put that man on stage to say all those things was ridiculous,” he said.

Sullivan writes for The Washington Post.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

COMMENT:  So Trump just throws free-speech under his campaign bus.  Criticizing Trump is sedition in this bullies book.

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