Gold Star Father Rebukes Kelly for Treating Soldiers' Deaths As 'Political Football'

Khizr Khan, the father of an Army captain who was killed in 2004 in Iraq, sharply criticized White House chief of staff John Kelly on Sunday’s edition of Face the Nation for defending President Trump’s treatment of Gold Star families over the past week.

“Former General Kelly indulged in defending the behavior of the president and made the situation even worse,” Khan said.

Khan has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump since the 2016 election, when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention about Trump’s racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

On Sunday he turned his attention to Kelly, who on Thursday waded into the controversy over Trump’s call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four soldiers killed in Niger this month. Khan accused Kelly and the White House of turning the deaths of Johnson and his fellow soldiers into a “political football.”


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In his press conference, Kelly criticized Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) for listening to and publicizing Trump’s phone call, and for her criticism of Trump’s comment that Johnson “knew what he was getting into” when he joined the military. (Johnson’s mother criticized Trump’s handling of the call as well.)

In the interview Khan referred to Kelly as a “former general” and a “citizen”; after the chief of staff spoke on Thursday White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders chastised a reporter for challenging Kelly, saying that it was “highly inappropriate” to question “a four-star Marine general.”

Khan was also asked to respond to Kelly’s statement that Gold Star families were “sacred” prior to the Khan family’s appearance at the Democratic convention. He defended his family’s participation and his speech about the U.S. constitution, saying, “We stood for the best of America, for the values of this country.”

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