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Donald Trump rejected criticism from the father of a soldier killed in Iraq who said the Republican presidential nominee had "sacrificed nothing and no one," and questioned whether the mother was allowed to speak during the couple's appearance at the Democratic convention.
"I think I've made a lot of sacrifices," Trump told ABC News in excerpts of an interview posted by the TV network on Saturday. "I work very, very hard."
Khizr Khan, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin and a Muslim, won widespread praise when he spoke Thursday at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), telling the story of his son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, killed by a car-bomb in Iraq in 2004.
Khan also attacked Trump for proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States and asked if the candidate had read the U.S. Constitution. He pulled out a pocket-copy from the inside of his suit coat, in one of the most commented moments on the night that Hillary Clinton accepted her party's nomination for president.
"Did Hillary's script writers write it?" Trump asked ABC's George Stephanopoulos in the interview. He said he had indeed sacrificed by employing thousands of people, and raising "millions of dollars" for veterans.
Trump said Khan appeared "very emotional and probably looked like a nice guy to me."
But the businessman also cast doubt on why Khan's wife did not speak. "She was standing there, she had nothing to say, she probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say, you tell me," Trump said.
The Khans' 27-year-old son was killed on June 8, 2004, after a bomb-packed taxi drove into a compound in Iraq while he was inspecting soldiers on guard duty. Telling the soldiers to drop to the ground, he went to stop the car, when it exploded, killing him, two Iraqi civilians and the two suicide bombers.
At the time, he was the highest-ranked Pakistani-American soldier to die in Iraq, and was buried in Arlington Cemetery with full military honors. He was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Khan's speech was widely hailed as one of the most moving of the DNC, and the Khans followed it up with an appearance on MSNBC's "Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell" on Friday in which Khan called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to repudiate Trump's comments.
The GOP leaders were patriots and decent human beings who had the "moral imperative" tell their party's presidential nominee "enough," Khan said.
Ghazala Khan, meanwhile, told MSNBC of her conversations with Humayun while he was at the Baqubah base in Iraq.
"I kept telling him, be safe and don't become a hero for me, just be my son, come back as a son," she said, near tears. "He came back as a hero."
Her husband told the New York Times that his wife chose not to speak at the Democratic convention because she found it too painful to talk about her son's death.
He also told the Times that that the Clinton campaign asked if he need speechwriting help or coaching.
"I said: 'I really don't, I have my thoughts in my head,'" Khan said, adding, "'Just let me say what I want to say. It will be heart-to-heart'."
Trump's attempt to hit back in the ABC interview at Khan's criticisms quickly drew fire on Saturday.
Ohio Governor John Kasich, who was one of Trump's rivals in the GOP primaries, tweeted
Meanwhile, a tweet from Meghan McCain, the daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain, made an apparent reference to Trump's earlier criticism of her father, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Earlier this month Trump said McCain was not a "hero," adding "I like people who weren't captured."
Trump's office later released the full transcript of his comments about the Khans in the ABC News interview, in a statement called "Setting the record straight."
"As shown in the full transcript, Mr. Trump doesn't compare his sacrifices to anybody else's, and in fact praises Mr. Khan and wishes him well," the statement said.
According to the transcript, Trump told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, " While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things."
Trump's comment about his sacrifices for his homeland, meanwhile, emphasized his job creation record.
"I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I've done, I've had tremendous success. I think I've done a lot," he said.
"I have raised millions of dollars for the vets. I'm helping the vets a lot, " he added, noting that these efforts included being instrumental in having the Vietnam Memorial buitd in Manhattan.
Clinton said in a statement on Saturday that she was "very moved to see Ghazala Khan stand bravely and with dignity in support of her son on Thursday night. And I was very moved to hear her speak last night, bravely and with dignity, about her son's life and the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country."
- CNBC contributed to this report.
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