Republican nominee Donald Trump's series of derogatory comments about Muslims has threatened — and ultimately failed — to severely damage his campaign before, but the Trump train may not be so lucky this time around. The candidate's ignorance of what it means to be a Muslim again took center stage this past weekend when Trump attacked the family of Capt. Humayun Khan, a Pakistani American Muslim soldier killed in the Iraq war. Figures from both sides of the aisle slammed back against the candidate's rhetoric, and CNN's Brian Stelter did a particularly good job of ripping into a Trump campaign spokesperson for its position on Khan and his family.
The events of Trump's latest bigotry-fueled scandal began when Khizr and Ghazala Khan appeared at the Democratic National Convention to honor their son and explain why Hillary Clinton's position on Muslim Americans and Muslims at large is far more befitting of a president than Trump's hatred and calls for sweeping bans.
Noting that his son had sacrificed himself in order to save his fellow soldiers, Khan pointed out: "If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America." He then asked the candidate if he had ever read the constitution, saying that he would gladly lend Trump his copy.
"In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law,'" Khan advised.
"You have lost nothing and no one," he added, speaking directly to Donald Trump.
Khan was rightfully using Trump's own rhetoric against him, but instead of honoring the family of the fallen soldier or simply staying silent, Trump decided to fan the flames. In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Trump suggested that Mrs. Khan had been banned from speaking at the DNC, and later took to Twitter, where he repositioned his focus to "radical Islamic terrorism and the weakness of our 'leaders' to eradicate it."
Despite top Republicans speaking out against their nominee's latest gaffe, Jason Miller, the Trump campaign's senior communications adviser, held steadfast to that rhetoric in an interview with CNN's Brian Stelter on Sunday.
During the interview, Stelter pulled up Trump's statement in which the candidate said Khan had "no right to stand in front of millions of people" and claim the things he had about Trump. Stelter asserted that the First Amendment gives Khan that exact right, but Miller repeatedly attempted to shift the focus to "radical Islamic terrorism."
Stelter, however, wasn't having it: "You keep mentioning radical Islamic terrorism, as if that is somehow linked to Mr. Khan. Why do you keep responding that way when I mention him?"
But when Miller said they should be focusing on "The broader debate that we're having is about the screening and the vetting that we're having for people who are coming into this country," the CNN host hit back: "But that has nothing to do with this family, with this Muslim American family."
Stelter than suggests that Miller's repeated use of "radical Islamic terrorism" following his mentioning of Khan may be the campaign's attempt to either change the subject, or more disturbingly, link Khan himself to terrorism.
Should that be the case, it would likely come as no surprise — given Trump's previous and repeated commentary, it appears as though no Muslim (even a Muslim American who died a war hero) is safe from the candidate's bigoted line of thinking. Stelter was right to fire back.