Republican MP joins Democrat after Trump’s attack on Pakistani-American parents

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A Republican lawmaker in Congress became the first to break with his party over the White House campaign on Tuesday, denouncing presidential candidate Donald Trump as unfit to lead and pledging to vote for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The break followed days of dispute between Trump and the parents of a Muslim US Army officer killed in the Iraq war, that has fuelled fresh unease among many Republicans over the New York businessman’s policies and style.

In an op-ed piece, Representative Richard Hanna of New York cited Trump’s attacks on the parents, calling the candidate “deeply flawed in endless ways”, “unrepentant” and “self-involved”. “For me, it is not enough to simply denounce his comments: ”He is unfit to serve our party and cannot lead this country,” Hanna wrote in the letter posted on syracuse.com, the website of the Post-Standard newspaper in New York.

While some lawmakers have not actively endorsed Trump, Hanna was the first to say he would vote for Clinton in the November 8 election. Trump has criticised Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan since they took the stage at last week’s Democratic convention. Khizr Khan cited their son Humayun Khan’s military service and sacrifice and criticised Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslims from entering the United States.

Many Republicans have expressed support for the parents in recent days, and some have sharply rebuked Trump, most notably Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain, a military veteran and former prisoner of war.