Return to Transcripts main page


Growing Backlash to Trump's Feud with Muslim Family; Parents of Fallen Soldier Respond to Trump. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired August 1, 2016 - 07:00   ET


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Mr. Khan made the ultimate sacrifice, and what has he heard from Donald Trump? Nothing but insults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heard a bang, bang, then the boom, boom.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Tragedy in Texas. The deadliest hot air balloon crash in U.S. history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next thing I knew, you saw a big fireball go up. I don't think any of them even had any idea what was going on.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to your NEW DAY.

We begin with Donald Trump's escalating feud with the parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier, igniting a firestorm within his whole party. Trump's critics on both sides of the aisle this morning saying he has this time gone too far by attacking a Gold-Star family.

BERMAN: The Khans are demanding Republican leaders repudiate Trump, referring to the Republican nominee as having a black soul. So will Donald Trump apologize to this family? Khizr and Ghazala Khan will join us live in a just moment.

But first, CNN's Phil Mattingly with the latest on this controversy -- Phil.


Top Republican officials are waking up this morning to this reality. Their -- their nominee, the Republican nominee is currently in an escalating feud with the parents of a slain U.S. soldier. It's one that has put all of them on defensive, most notably Trump's running mate, Mike Pence.


KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF FALLEN MUSLIM U.S. SOLDIER: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will -- I will gladly lend you my copy. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A defining moment at the Democratic National Convention, now sending shock waves through Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think I made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs.

MATTINGLY: Trump criticizing this Muslim mother and father of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq.

TRUMP: His wife, 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.

MATTINGLY: Khizr Khan, whose son, Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004, firing back at Trump.

KHAN: For this candidate for presidency to not be aware of the respect of a Gold-Star mother standing there, and he had to take that shot at her, this is height of ignorance.

He is a black soul, and this is totally unfit for the leadership of this beautiful country.

MATTINGLY: His wife, Ghazala, also speaking out in a "Washington Post" op-ed saying, quote, "Walking on to the convention stage with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?"

Trump attempting to clarify his remarks in a statement, calling Khan's son a, quote, "hero" but also stating that Khan had "no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false)."

Khan defending his scathing rebuke of Trump, saying he wrote his own speech.

KHAN: There is no Clinton campaign here. There is no prompter here. I am articulate person.

MATTINGLY: Adding that Trump is missing two qualities required in a president.

KHAN: That is moral compass and second is empathy. This candidate is void of all traits that are necessary for the stewardship of this country. I do not believe his whole year-long rhetoric -- division, excluding people, talking about them derogatorily -- has prepared him.

MATTINGLY: Late Sunday, Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, issuing his own statement, saying quote, "His family, like all Gold-Star families, should be cherished by every American," all as top Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump's remarks and praising Captain Khan as an American hero.

This firestorm comes after Trump earlier in his campaign questioned whether Senator John McCain was a hero after being captured in Vietnam. McCain's daughter tweeting this over the weekend: "I would ask what kind of barbarian would attack the parents of a fallen soldier, but oh, yes, it's the same person who attacks POWs."

CLINTON: He has, throughout the course of his campaign, consistently insulted and demeaned individuals, groups of Americans.


[07:05:03] MATTINGLY: Now, there have been disavowals. There have been condemnations. But up to this point, no Republican officials have actually pulled their support from Donald Trump. It's something Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said was spineless, referring specifically to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

That said, John, I've been talking to Republican officials yesterday and this morning. And they're all saying at this point it's a weather-the-storm type of moment. Hope this doesn't go that much further, make the position that much more untenable.

But still, we've seen this happen a number of times over the course of the campaign. This could be, though, that bridge too far. At least that's what people are wondering right now -- John.

BERMAN: Right. Phil Mattingly, thanks so much.

Let's talk to the family, right now, in the middle of this controversy. Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan, the parents of fallen American-Muslim soldier Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004. Thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

Khizr, let me ask you first, since you spoke Thursday night, did you ever imagine four days later you would be in the middle of this campaign controversy? What did you think was going to happen?

K. KHAN: Thank you, John. No, I did not. Neither my family. We are private people. We participated in this convention, because a tribute was being paid. And there was context to my conversation, was that we had been patiently been subjected to maligning of this candidate for a whole year. Enough is enough.

Every decent Republican has said --I apologize if I -- if I'm a little emotional about this. Every decent Republican has rebuked his behavior; yet, nobody has stood up and said, "Enough, stop it. You will not be our candidate."

In private, they have done this. We are aware of it, that in private they have done this. Speaker Paul -- Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader, other senior Republican leadership have done that, but this candidate's maligning of decent patriotic Republican has continued the leadership. Look what he did and how he spoke about Mitt Romney. Look what he did, how he spoke with Senator McCain. This is -- this is a consistent -- this is -- this is proof of his ignorance and arrogance. And I again and again ask his advisers to get him in a room, close the door, and set him right if he needs -- if he wants to be the candidate of this wonderful Republican Party.

Republican and Democratic Party both are as patriotic as anywhere and anyone. Therefore, I am amazed at the love and care that we have received, that we continue to receive. And we will continue to speak up until this candidate behaves in a dignified manner deserving of the candidacy of this office.

BERMAN: Mr. Khan, you just called -- you just called him ignorant and arrogant. And, in fact, Donald Trump said you attacked him at the Democratic convention. In a tweet he said, "I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic convention. Am I not allowed to respond?" So...

K. KHAN: Bear with me.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

K. KHAN: That is, again -- that is, again, his ignorance of the First Amendment. I have exactly the same rights as he does. He had been abusing, disrespecting women, judges, all decent Americans. He had been so abusive of them. I exercise exactly the same rights. That, again, proves his ignorance. He wants to have one set of rights for himself, and he wants to have another set of rights for others.

No, somebody should tell him that there is equal dignity, equal protection of law in this country. That is why that Constitution came to play. I keep that in my pocket, because I cherish this document. I wish somebody would read it to him. Certain fundamental values that enshrine in this document.

BERMAN: His supporters now say, though, since you've talked about this -- since you have exercised your First Amendment rights, you're now fair game. It is now fair game for Donald Trump to talk about you and his supporters to talk about you. You spoke at the Democratic convention, which is a political platform.

K. KHAN: Well, they have been exercising their rights, so there is nothing new to that. We are private citizens. We are private people. We want to be out of this controversy. My good wife, Ghazala, had been insisting that I not to respond. I let -- I take a more dignified path than responding to undignified attacks and comments. Therefore, we jointly decide that there is no need to escalate this. We have made the point.

[07:10:20] ] The amount of recognition, the amount of love, support, care -- street corners. Any place we go to the people come and they say you have spoken what we wanted to say. I have my email box full of messages from prominent Republicans that are saying that this year no Republican presidential vote. So we want to be out of this controversy, we don't want to continue.

That is not our style. We are decent, dignified family of this country, very appreciative of the blessings that we have enjoyed and we continue to enjoy, and we want to remain that way.

BERMAN: Mrs. Khan...

K. KHAN: This is -- this is not our path.

BERMAN: Mrs. Khan, I want to talk to you, because Donald Trump specifically questioned you and questioned your silence at the Democratic Convention last Thursday. I want to play you the sound -- undoubtedly, you've heard it by now -- of what he had to say about your choice not to speak on Thursday. Let's listen.


TRUMP: His wife -- 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, but plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet and it looked like she had nothing to say. A lot of people have said that.


BERMAN: Mrs. Khan, I would like to give you a chance to respond to that right now.

GHAZALA KHAN, MOTHER OF FALLEN MUSLIM-AMERICAN SOLDIER: Actually, I have already responded in my statement that -- I think it is published in "Washington Post." And to -- but still, I can say that my religion or my family or my culture never stopped me saying whatever I want to say. And my husband is very supportive of me in these things that I have all the rights as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter.

I have done very well saying my mind out but that time was different and anybody can see how hard, different that time was when I was standing there in front of America. Without saying a word, I had lots of love. I touched lots of heart.

So I'm thankful for everything that America has given me. Everything that I had got from America, but most of it the love and the respect.

I just -- I'm so happy to be saying that I am a Muslim woman, and Muslim women have all the rights in the world. In the eyes of God, we are equal to our husbands. We are equal and we are No. 1 in the household, in my family, in my country or in my community. I'm very glad that I have been in this country and I got all the happiness -- and that comes from Humayun. Yes, somebody have to pay the price for this freedom that we have. Thank you, America.

BERMAN: As a Gold Star mother, is there a message you want to send right now to the country about what you're feeling four days into this discussion?

G. KHAN: I'm really very happy for the things that I got from America and from all over the world. My respect -- my love has gone. Not that I was expecting, but always wherever I go, I don't know -- people hugs me, people love me. Not right now, but for all these 12 years I had America's respect.

That's why I thought I should go with my husband, stand there, and tell them how a Muslim feels in this country. We feel very protected. We feel very happy and our futures are -- our children are in a safe place.

BERMAN: Mr. Khan, Donald Trump is apparently watching right now. On Twitter, he just said, "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!", he said. Given that you know he is watching now, is there a message you would like to send to him about this discussion?

K. KHAN: I really want to maintain mine and my family's dignity. I spoke what was appropriate; and if he's watching, just imagine there was no need to comment the way he commented. That initiated this conversation. I again say, we want to maintain our dignity. We want to maintain my family's dignity, my son's dignity and sacrifice.

[07:15:32] And he should listen to America -- what America and the world is telling about the remarks, about the lack of empathy, and that's all I wish to convey to him. That a good leader has one trait, earlier I said, empathy. I probably right now will misspell it, but it is basic character, realizing, feeling the pains, the difficulties of the people that you wish to lead, and that is missing.

Donald Trump needs to sit with his advisers and portray to this world that he is empathetic. You solve the problems with empathy, putting people together. There are bad people among us, but there are good people among us, as well. You gather good people to get rid of bad people, but you do not malign the whole religion -- the whole culture.

We are the solution to the dealing with the terrorism in the United States. Join hands with good Muslims. Only war is not the solution. It is one of the solutions. Communities coming together is the solution. We are as concerned as Donald Trump is about the safety of this country. We are testament to the goodness of this country. We need to stop fighting with one another, but we need a leader that will unite us, not disrespect, not by derogatory remarks.

I feel bad about the discourse that this campaign -- this election campaign has taken. We need to join hands. We have a very serious problem of this for the safety of the citizens of this country. We are solution. Look, the treatment of Muslims in France and other places, there is much worse security issues than United States does.

BERMAN: Mr. Khan...

K. KHAN: We can all -- yes?

BERMAN: Mr. Khan, Mike Pence, Donald Trump's running mate who has a son in the Marines, he put out a statement overnight where he honored your loss and the sacrifice of your son and that your family has made. And he also talked about policy a little bit. This is Mike Pence, governor of Indiana. He said, "By suspending immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family."

Mike Pence, there, talking about policy. Well, apparently, what is now the Trump campaign policy, where they want to suspend immigration from countries where there are terrorist issues. I'm wondering if you have a response or a comment on what Governor Pence said.

K. KHAN: I appreciate the statement that Governor Pence issued. We are very heartened by his remarks about our family. We are grateful for that. As far as the policy and tightening the policy, that is what we need. We already have those measures in place. Can we make them better? Of course, we can make them better, because with the hands of these criminals, we have all suffered; and we strengthen hands of our leaders to find the solution.

Are there better solutions? Of course, there are better solutions. Let's go and implement them. Let's make those policies and implement them. But let's not create -- strengthen the hands of enemies by these remarks, by these statements.

Believe me, these statements strengthen the recruitment process. The young men and women that are disheartened because of the discourse of these campaigns begin to look to those solutions by joining.

Let's create an environment and policy. I agree with Governor Pence that that will be a wonderful idea to strengthen our security policies. I don't disagree with that.

[07:20:12] BERMAN: Mr. Khan, part of this discussion that's been going on for four days, which is so remarkable, is it has to do with your son, Captain Humayun Khan, who died now 12 years ago. He, in some ways, is overshadowing this entire discussion; yet, he's hardly discussed. I'm wondering if you could just tell us about your son.

K. KHAN: He was a wonderful patriotic, deliberate person. The cadets of his school come to our home to pay tribute to him every year. We invite them to our home for a particular purpose. We give them a copy of the same Constitution that I have. I have a stack of it at home.

There is a reason behind that, and that reason is for people to know when they step -- they comment. They say, "Wow, this is first time we have stepped in a Muslim home. This looks like our home. This looks like our parents' home. And thank you for giving us this copy of the Constitution. In school, we have read it, but we will cherish to read it, because we taking oath tomorrow to this Constitution. It will be wonderful to have."

There are messages in here that we are all the same, regardless of our religions. Unite us, not divide us. Our cultures that follow these religions unite us. There is peace and harmony in these religions; and Captain Humayun laid the path for that. He -- I will give you one simple example of his character -- how he was.

At University of Virginia in the basketball court, there were two teams used to play. African-American students and white American students always playing separately, not playing together, not talking to one another. He was the one that, one step at a time, he will drag one player to here and one player from there and bring them together. And in few weeks, the whole team was playing together.

We received a delegation of those students after passing, and they said, "For all of our life he taught us how to come together." That is what he was. That is who he was. And to him, we pay tribute by this small gesture of trying to bring some peace in this political discourse. Trying to bring some respect towards each other. That is what he was. That is dedicated to his spirit.

BERMAN: Mrs. Khan, I know it's difficult for you to speak of your son, even 12 years later, but I want to give you an opportunity to share with the country your thoughts on Capt. Khan. One memory, one thing you want us all to know about him.

G. KHAN: One memory that I was just thinking about. I went to Fort Knox -- he was stationed there -- and it was Christmas. And he took us to his sergeant's house. I said -- he said, "Sergeant have invited me."

And then we passed through colonel's house. There was lots of people there. I said, "Colonel haven't invited you?"

He said, "No, he did, and everybody's going to his house, but nobody is going to Sergeant's house. I don't want to break his heart."

So instead of going to colonel's house and enjoying everything, he went to his sergeant's family and they -- we had a very nice time with that family.

K. KHAN: Mrs. Khan probably would like to tell the last conversation on Mother's Day that you had with him, and please tell that.

G. KHAN: On Mother's Day on May 2004, that he called. He talked to me. As a mother, I said, "Please, please Humayun, don't be hero, just stay back and just finish your time. Three-fourths of the year had left so you will be home soon, and please just stay back."

He laughed and said, "Mom, you know these soldiers are my responsibility. I don't want anything to happen to them, because I am responsible. I have to do my job. I am responsible for my soldiers."

And he came back, but he came back as a hero.

BERMAN: Ghazala Khan, Khizr Khan, thank you for being with us this morning. And I know people all over the country honor your sacrifice and honor your loss. We appreciate it. Thanks so much for being with us.

G. KHAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: I do want to note CNN has an open invitation for Donald Trump to respond. Thus far, he has declined. HARLOW: All right. Let's discuss this firestorm. Let's get some

reaction from CNN political commentator and former campaign manager for Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski. He is still receiving severance from the campaign, I should note.

[07:25:16] And also joining us this morning is CNN political commentator and vice chair of the New York state Democratic Party, Christine Quinn. Thank you both for being here.

And as John pointed out in the interview, it appears that Mr. Trump was watching. I don't know if you've heard from him, Corey, and you can confirm that. But he tweeted, "Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over television doing the same."

I want to take a step back and look at this 72 hours this weekend in full. Mr. Trump is continuing the fight with this family. At the same time, he made a clear error in his interview on ABC, saying that Russia is not in Ukraine, appearing to not know about the annexation of Crimea.

And at the same time, he's talking about the debate versus NFL games and creating, you know, a fluster over something that was planned a year ago by Democrats and Republicans. Corey, you know the man; you know the mind. What's the strategy here?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let's take it one at a time. That's the easiest way to do it. First and foremost, as it relates to the presidential debates, Donald Trump is going to get the debate schedule changed. Regardless of when those debates were set, the presidential debate commission is not tasked with performing at the debate stage. That's Donald Trump's job and Hillary Clinton's job. If they can agree to change the dates, they should do that so that more people can participate. Because right now, the debates are scheduled against primetime NFL football games.

CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: These three things all together...

LEWANDOWSKI: I understand, but let's look at them individually.

HARLOW: What's going on in the mind...

QUINN: Can we stop about football games and talk about that family? Exactly. Why the continuing the fight right now with the family?

LEWANDOWSKI: He's not fighting with the family. He's gone on and said Captain Khan is a hero. He said that publicly. You tend to glaze over that notion, but he said it very publicly.

HARLOW: I'm not glazing over it. I mean, we can pull that statement up. Absolutely. He said it in a statement from the campaign.

LEWANDOWSKI: That's right.

HARLOW: He hasn't come out himself and said it. LEWANDOWSKI: Those are his words that he said it from his Twitter

account. Those are his words that he said, "Captain Khan is a hero."

QUINN: And so why, five minutes ago, did he tweet, "He viciously attacked me"?

LEWANDOWSKI: Because what he is saying is -- look, he said Captain Khan is a hero. The difference is, if Donald Trump were the president, Captain Khan would still be alive today, because we never would have entered the Iraq War in the first place. He's been very clear about that.

No. 2, what he said was that this is something the Khan family decided to engage in by going to the Democratic convention and telling their story. They're welcome to do that.

QUINN: Corey...

LEWANDOWSKI: But Mr. Trump has the ability to respond.

BERMAN: As the campaign manager, would you have advised him to bring up the silence of the grieving mother after the fact? Is that advice you would have given him?

LEWANDOWSKI: Here's what I would say to him. When someone attacks you publicly in front of a stage of millions of people, you have the ability to respond. Now, this is a very sensitive issue.

QUINN: She didn't say a word! She didn't say a word.


QUINN: No, this is ridiculous. It is outrageously un-American.

LEWANDOWSKI: He understands that, and he called him a hero. He does have the ability when someone attacks him personally and accuses him of something which he did not -- has never done. He said he's never read the Constitution. He has the ability to respond.

HARLOW: He also -- he also insinuated that the wife was not allowed to speak.

QUINN: No, he didn't insinuate.

HARLOW: He said maybe she wasn't allowed to speak.

QUINN: He did more than insinuate. He flat-out said it. And any decent person who saw Mrs. Khan on stage could see the pain and the grief in her face. And any person who has lost anyone or even any person who's been so blessed they haven't could understand why she couldn't talk all -- even all these years later, about losing her son in the way she lost him.

I lost my mother when I was 16. I'm 50. I couldn't stand in front of America and talk about her. And then to make...

LEWANDOWSKI: You got to relax a little bit. You have to relax.

QUINN: I do not have to relax.

LEWANDOWSKI: Excuse me. Don't touch me. Don't touch me. Excuse me. Relax.

QUINN: Oh, calm down. She chose to stand there -- I'm not going to relax, because we have a man running for president in the United States who made a Gold-Star mother have to go on TV and cry in front of America. This isn't about politics.

LEWANDOWSKI: He didn't ask her to go on.

QUINN: She felt she had to. This isn't about politics. This isn't about presidential campaigns. This is not even about me nicely touching your arm. It is about decency and Gold-Star parents.

HARLOW: Let's hear from those Gold-Star parents for a moment.

LEWANDOWSKI: The parents chose to go and tell their story. That's OK. Look, I have a brother who's an active duty Marine. My father fought in Vietnam. My grandfather fought in World War II. OK? Don't tell me about patriotism.

But if I choose to go up and tell my story in front of the American people, I've now engaged and have opened myself up so that people will respond to my story. Whether it's right or wrong, they've chose publicly to tell their story. It's a very sad story, but they're one of 7,000 families.