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McConnell, Ryan, Defend Khizr Khan’s Son’s Military Service and Sacrifice

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have both come out with statements strongly defending Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier killed in combat in 2004 whose father Khizr Khan made an emotional plea against Donald Trump's candidacy at the Democratic National Convention.

The statements come after Trump's controversial response to the Khan family, and after a personal appeal from Khizr Khan to to both the Senate Majority Leader and the House Speaker to denounce the GOP nominee.

Neither McConnell nor Ryan mention Trump by name in their statements, but the repudiation of the GOP nominee is implicit in both responses.

"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," McConnell wrote.

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Ryan followed with a similar response. “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.

"Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice," Ryan continued. "Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”

While both McConnell and Ryan reiterate their opposition to banning all Muslims from the United States, Trump has altered the wording on this policy. In his speech accepting the GOP nomination, he talked about the need to "suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism."

Khan said during his speech to the DNC that Trump has "sacrificed nothing and no one." Trump responded to this claim on "This Week," telling ABC News' George Stephanopoulos he had made a lot of sacrifices for the country, including employing thousands of people. Trump also insinuated that Khan’s wife Ghazala, who stood beside him as he spoke, was silent during the speech because of her religion.

Ghazala Khan subsequently told ABC News' Mary Bruce she did not speak at the convention because it would have been too painful.

Neither statement mentioned Trump's remarks about Mrs. Khan.

In an interview on MSNBC the day after Khizr Khan addressed the convention, he begged McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan — both of whom he referred to as "leaders and patriots" — to speak out against the GOP nominee, calling it a "moral imperative."

"There comes a time in the history of a nation where an ethical moral stance has to be taken regardless of the political cost," Khan said. "The only reason they're repudiating this behavior, this threat to our democracy, our decency, our foundation, is just because of political consequences."

Two other Senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who ran against Mr. Trump in the Republican primary, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have released statements explicitly condemning Mr. Trump by name. Ayotte wrote that she is "appalled" by the way Trump "disparaged" the Khans and compared the loss of their son to his sacrifices.

Graham said that Trump's response shows why he is not fit for the presidency.

"If you’re going to be leader of the free world, you have to be able to accept criticism. Mr. Trump can’t. The problem is, ‘unacceptable’ doesn’t even begin to describe it,” he said.

Maine Republican Sen. Sue Collins also tweeted about Trump's remarks, saying "No one should criticize grieving parents who have lost a son in combat. Capt. Khan was an American hero."

No one should criticize grieving parents who have lost a son in combat. Capt. Khan was an American hero.

— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) July 31, 2016

ABC News' Alexander Mallin contributed reporting.


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