President Donald Trump said Tuesday he felt “ashamed” by “disgraceful” NFL-wide protests and accused participants of disrespecting military members who died or were injured defending the United States.
“I was ashamed of what was taking place,” Trump said during a joint press conference with the Spanish prime minister in the White House Rose Garden, referring to the numerous football players who knelt during the playing of the national anthem before NFL games.
“I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem,” Trump said. “Many people have died,” he added, referring to fallen military members.
“Many people are so horribly injured,” he added, before recalling a recent visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“I saw so many great young people and they are missing legs and they’re missing arms and they’re so badly injured. They were fighting for our country, they were fighting for our flag, they were fighting for our national anthem,” Trump said.
“For people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem I think is disgraceful,” he said.
The president also denied that he was “preoccupied” with the NFL after being asked about the attention he gave the league over the weekend in which he tweeted about the protests several times.
“Not at all,” Trump said. “I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work.”
He also urged the NFL to create a rule that would “not allow people” to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.
Trump has spent the last four days railing against NFL players for protesting by kneeling during the national anthem.
On Friday, he called those who kneel “sons of bitches” and tweeted that NFL players who don’t stand during the anthem should be “fired.”
He continued to tweet about the issue throughout the weekend, prompting players or owners on nearly all of the teams to take action or issue statements against the president by Sunday’s gameday. The president was still at it Tuesday morning.