This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
Donald Trump refuses to back down in his spat with Khizr Khan, the father of fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who gave an impassioned speech about his family’s sacrifice at the Democratic National Convention and implored the Republican frontrunner to revisit the U.S. Constitution before making a “policy” platform that bars an entire religion from entering the United States.
In response, Trump did what Trump does: Go on the attack. First, he targeted Khan’s wife, suggesting Ghazala Khan stood by her husband without speaking because “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” He then argued the Khan family has no “right” to say what they did about him and that he’s made “a lot of sacrifices” because he works really, really hard, thank you very much.
As criticism mounted against the Republican nominee, Khizr and Ghazala Khan continued to speak out against Trump’s rhetoric, including an op-ed Ghazala wrote in The Washington Post explaining that she didn’t speak at the convention because talking about her son is still too painful for her.
A slew of GOP leaders, including John McCain, also criticized the party nominee, forcefully denouncing his attacks on the family of a dead soldier, although none have actually decamped. And while Trump faced bipartisan criticism for his attacks on the Khan family, his trusty band of enablers managed to peddle insane lies about the Trump-Khan feud. Here are some of the most egregious.
1. Scottie Nell Hughes: Trump understands sacrifice because working “cost him two marriages.”
Trump spokeswoman Scottie Nell Hughes appeared on a CNN panel Sunday and was confronted with the question of how Trump could compare his "sacrifice" with that of the Khan family's.
“I’ve done a lot of work with veterans on PTSD issues. Have I sacrificed anything for my country?" said Hillary Clinton supporter Bernard Whitman. "Absolutely not. The people who sacrificed are people like the soldiers that give their lives every day.”
Ah, but Nell Hughes had a comeback. “Mr. Trump was responding to the question of sacrificing,” Nell Hughes replied. “Nowhere ever did he ever say that his sacrifice was equivalent or more or even close to what the Khans had given up.”
Then she, like Trump, sought to make the case that this was indeed a huge and comparable sacrifice.
“You know what, creating jobs caused him to be at work, which cost him two marriages,” Hughes added. “Time away from his family to sit there and invest.”
“Infidelity cost him,” Whitman reminded her.
2. Katrina Pierson: Trump was just standing up for himself and Clinton’s really the one responsible.
Another defense put forth by the Trump minions — in this case, Katrina Pierson — centered around the idea Trump was just “defending himself” against the Khans, who had “personally and viciously” attacked him.
“This isn’t about winning a fight against anyone, this was Mr. Trump defending himself,” Katrina (“So what? They’re Muslim!”) Pierson told CNN’s Jake Tapper Monday after he asked why the Republican candidate can’t simply take the high road in this particular instance. Pierson also added their son’s death “had nothing to do with Donald Trump.”
Of course, that’s not even close to the argument the family was making at the DNC. The Khans' point is that Trump doesn’t understand sacrifice or the Constitution when he viciously attacks people of the Muslim faith. It goes without saying that under Trump's avowed immigration policy, their family would never have been able to move to America let alone serve and sacrifice in the nation’s military.
Supporters have peddled the claim that Trump was just defending himself on news shows for the past few days. If you need any more insight into just how far out of the realm of dignity this storyline has pivoted, look no further House Republican Chris Collins, who told MSNBC Monday that Khan’s decision to make a political statement opened his family up to criticism.
"He's become Hillary's attack dog,” Collins said. “And everytime Donald Trump will say something, he puts up the shield, if you will, of the loss of his son.”
Yeah, maybe don’t accuse a family grieving the loss of their son of using him as a “shield.” Just a suggestion.
The latter part of Pierson’s point, that Capt. Khan’s death “had nothing to do with Donald Trump” hints at one of the more cynical arguments offered by his supporters. Son Eric Trump took to the airways Monday, insisting Clinton is actually culpable for their son’s death (not that the Khan family at any point issued blame for their son’s sacrifice) because she voted to authorize the war in Iraq — something the Trump camp consistently argues he would not have done.
That claim is delusional at best. Numerous investigations indicate Trump originally issued at least tepid support before the war, and even praised the military action within the first few weeks of the operation. Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski also noted on Twitter that Trump “made the case for regime change in Iraq in his 2000 book” and “said three times before it he wished [George] H.W. Bush had deposed Saddam.”
Not to mention just how insensitive it is to peddle this hypothetical that the Khans' son would still be alive today if Trump were president. Not only is it an unfair representation of Trump’s foresight, but if you’re under the impression that a grieving family hasn’t already exhausted the what-ifs 100 times over, the Khans are right — “you’ve sacrificed nothing.”
3. Jason Miller: But, radical Islamic terrorism!
This is one for the books. Nearly every Trump surrogate who’s made their case to the media has argued that the real issue at hand isn’t about sacrifice or the Constitution, but about radical Islamic terrorism.
This is the point Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller made over and over again in an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter (which should be a blueprint for every other news host to press Trump supporter for real answers). “The fact is that this is about radical Islamic terrorism and what we have to do as a country to make sure that our borders are safe,” Miller said Monday.
"That's not what Mr. Khan's speech was about on Thursday," Stelter said. “The First Amendment to the Constitution allows Mr. Khan the right to stand on stage and say whatever he wants. Why would Mr. Trump say he doesn't have that right?”
"That's not what Mr. Trump is saying at all," Miller said. "This is about radical Islamic terrorism, and this is about what's really going on here, and the fact that the media doesn't want to pick up and cover what's going on with this country.”
"You keep bringing up radical Islamic terrorism," Stelter replied. "Are you trying to change the subject, or are you trying to link him to terrorism?”
Miller quickly denied that he was equating the Khans with radical Islamic terrorism. But other Trump spokespeople weren’t so subtle. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone posted a link on Twitter to a sketchy blog accusing Khizr Khan of being a "Muslim Brotherhood agent” and his deceased son of being on an “Islamist mission.”
Of course, Stone doesn’t function as an official surrogate of the Trump campaign, just a really loud supporter. But you know who does function in an official capacity? Donald Trump. And on a local Ohio TV station Monday, he peddled a very similar notion.
“It’s a very big subject for me. And border security’s very big. And when you have radical Islamic terrorists probably all over the place, we’re allowing them to come in by the thousands and thousands,” Trump said. “And I think that’s what bothered Mr. Khan more than anything else.”
“And, you know, I’m not going to change my views on that,” he added. “We have radical Islamic terrorists coming in that have to be stopped. We’re taking them in by the thousands.”
One more time for the seats in the back: Do not insinuate the family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier is sympathetic to terrorism. Just don’t do it.