In his first response to a searing charge from bereaved Army father Khizr Khan that he’d sacrificed nothing for his country, Donald Trump claimed that he had in fact sacrificed by employing “thousands and thousands of people.” He also suggested that Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim and questioned whether Khan’s words were his own.
On the last night of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Gold Star father Khizr Khan, his wife Ghazala by his side, recounted to the crowd how his son was killed in 2004 by a car bomb in Iraq.
Khan also chastised Trump for seeking to ban Muslims from entering the country, saying that his son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, would not have been able to serve under a Trump presidency.
“Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America,” Khan said, addressing Trump. “You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Trump appeared to try to brush the speech aside, saying that Khan “was, you know, very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me.”
Trump also said, “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.”
This appears to be Trump tipping his hat to some on far-right wing and nationalist Twitter, who have suggested that Ghazala Khan was silent during her husband’s speech because they are Muslim that Khizr Khan prohibits his wife from speaking.
In an interview with ABC today, Ghazala said she did not speak because she was “in pain.”
“Please. I am very upset when I heard when he said that I didn’t say anything. I was in pain. If you were in pain you fight or you don’t say anything, I’m not a fighter, I can’t fight. So the best thing I do was quiet,” Ghazala said.
Khizr Khan said he asked his wife of 42 years to speak, but she declined, knowing she would be too emotional.
“I invited her, would you like to say something on the stage when the invitation came, and she said, ‘You know how it is with me, how upset I get,'” he said.
Pressed by Stephanopoulos to name the sacrifices he’d made for his country, Trump said: “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”
Trump also cited his work on behalf of veterans, including helping to build a Vietnam War memorial in Manhattan, and raising “millions of dollars” for vets.
Paul Rieckoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non partisan group with close to 200,000 members, called Trump’s comparison of his sacrifices with those of someone like Khan “insulting, foolish and ignorant.”
“For anyone to compare their ‘sacrifice’ to a Gold Star family member is insulting, foolish and ignorant. Especially someone who has never served himself and has no children serving,” Rieckoff said. “Our county has been at war for a decade and a half and the truth is most Americans have sacrificed nothing. Most of them are smart and grounded enough to admit it.”