US President Donald Trump on Monday continued his attacks on the NFL, saying players who protest the national anthem are disrespecting the country.
Trump, who has been a vocal critic of NFL players who protest the national anthem, was asked about former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s recent comments that players who kneel during the anthem aren’t disrespecting the flag.
“I think she’s wrong,” Trump said, disagreeing with Clinton’s sentiment. “When they’re taking knees – there’s plenty of time to do knees and there’s plenty of time to do lots of other things. But when you take a knee … you’re sitting, essentially, for our great national anthem, you’re disrespecting our flag and you’re disrespecting our country.”
Trump also changed his tune on the repercussions for taking a knee during the anthem. During a September rally, Trump said NFL owners should “fire” any “son of a b—-” who kneels during the anthem. On Monday, Trump said players should be suspended for kneeling, with games accruing with each subsequent violation.
“The NFL should have suspended some of these players for one game,” Trump said. “Not fire them. Suspended them for one game. And then if they did it again, it could’ve been two game, then three games, and then for the season. You wouldn’t have people disrespecting our country right now.”
Trump also used Clinton’s comments as a chance to criticize his former opponent, saying her belief that kneeling during the anthem isn’t disrespectful encapsulates why she lost the election.
“It’s that thinking – that is the reason she lost the election,” he said.
The NFL is expected to meet this week with owners and players to discuss ways to end national anthem protests and move forward with players’ concerns about social injustice. Last week, the NFL sent a letter to teams saying they wanted to end the protests and had a plan in place to highlight players’ work in their communities.