In an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday in northern Virginia, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continued the divisive in-party rhetoric that establishment leaders had hoped would end following the GOP national convention in Cleveland.
Rebuked by a number of prominent Republicans for his critical comments regarding Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic convention last week, Trump has remained defiant — refusing to apologize to the Khan family and subtly disparaging some in the GOP who have called him out for belittling a father who lost his son in combat.
GOP members who have publicly distanced themselves from Trump’s comments and defended Mr. Khan include, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake, Roy Blunt, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. Richard Hanna and Gov. Chris Christie.
“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service,” McCain said in a statement Monday. “I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement.”
“It is time for Donald Trump to set the example for our country and the future of the Republican Party,” he continued. “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.”
Speaker Ryan released a toned-down version of McCain’s statement on Sunday:
“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. Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”
In response, Trump said he’s “just not quite there yet,” in terms of endorsing Paul Ryan’s candidacy in a primary election against businessman Paul Nehlen, a Trump supporter, and that he’s “never been there with John McCain”, who is also facing a primary challenge in 2016.
Despite the collective outrage leveled at the Republican nominee, reports in recent days have suggested that Mr. Khan may not be a purely sympathetic figure. An attorney by trade, Khan started his own law firm after leaving what is now Hogan Lovells LLP, an international legal practice with ties to both Hillary and Bill Clinton.
Direct connections between Hogan and the Clintons, include: former firm partner, Howard Topaz, served as a Clinton tax adviser from 2004 through at least 2008; Hogan Lovells lobbyist, Robert Kyle, bundled over $50,000 in donations to Clinton’s 2016 campaign; and the spam filter program Mrs. Clinton used on the private email system during her tenure at the State Department was patented in consultation with Hogan Lovells, which also handled the parent company’s yearly business reports.
As for Mr. Khan personally, screenshots of his now-deleted law office’s website show he specializes in services including, “EB5 Investor Services and Immigration Services.”
The EB5 program, administered by the Department of Homeland Security, allows foreigners who invest in a U.S.-based “commercial enterprise” or “plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers,” to apply for permanent residence. The exemption is notoriously used by well-to-do Middle Eastern families in order to obtain legal status.
In February, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley published a scathing statement about the EB5 program, alleging fraud, corruption and lack of transparency.
“The enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security wrote an internal memo that raises significant concerns about the program,” the statement read, in part. “One section of the memo outlines concerns that it could be used by Iranian operatives to infiltrate the United States. The memo identifies seven main areas of program vulnerability, including the export of sensitive technology, economic espionage, use by foreign government agents and terrorists, investment fraud, illicit finance and money laundering.”
A leaked Trump campaign email to members of Congress supporting the Republican nominee suggests Trump believes can win the public relations battle on this issue. Entitled “Urgent Pivot: Khan and TPs,” the memo tell surrogates to defend the candidate’s comments and emphasize a commitment to stopping “radical Islamic terror”.
Apparently incapable of ending an interview on a positive note, Trump said if he loses the election he will start a couple of “anti-certain candidate” super PACS, naming John Kasich and Ted Cruz as potential targets.
[Washington Post] [Reuters] [Politico] [Breitbart] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via CNN]