White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested Monday that NFL players protesting police brutality should focus their protests on police officers on the sidelines of NFL games rather than kneeling during the national anthem.
The controversy over standing for the National Anthem first began last football season, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest police brutality against the African-American community.
"It's always appropriate for the president of this country to promote our flag, to promote our national anthem, and ask people to respect it", she said.
Sanders said it's "always appropriate for the President of the United States to defend our flag, to defend the national anthem and to defend the men and women who fought and died to defend it".
Sanders went on to say that he initially defended Trump to his family and friends, saying that they should give the president a chance, but now he's proving them right.
The statement created backlash.
His remarks struck many as stoking racial resentments because the players he criticized were black and their protests were meant to highlight racial injustice.
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"When [Trump] tweets something, it does take away from his legislative agenda".
He stopped to speak to reporters about it yesterday, as well, as he prepared to make the journey from his weekend estate to the White House. Trump said in a Twitter post on Monday. This has nothing to do with race or anything else.
"This isn't about the president being against anyone", Sanders started before claiming that Trump's message was about honoring the American flag, among other things.
Huckabee Sanders also said the president's criticism of the National Football League isn't distracting him from other pressing issues like tax reform, repealing ObamaCare and securing the borders.
Trump's rant about protests and other sports-related topics on Friday started a weekend-long tweetstorm in which the president commented on National Basketball Association athletes, an NHL visit to the White House, and, eventually, the behavior of NASCAR drivers.
To that Sanders said, 'I think if this is the debate is really for them about police brutality, they should probably protest the officers on the field that are protecting them instead of the American flag'.
"That's not what I'm saying", Sanders insisted. I'm not sure how those two things would be combined, ' she explained.