White House officials say NFL players should shut up: ‘They can do free speech on their own time’

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Top White House officials have joined Trump’s three-day assault on NFL players. The attack started Friday night, when Trump called any player who kneels during the national anthem to protest racism a “son of a bitch.” Trump continued his call for NFL owners to fire such players on Sunday.

Trump’s efforts have been harshly criticized by players and owners as divisive and unpatriotic.

Sunday morning, two top White House officials joined Trump’s attacks. Defending his rhetoric and calling on the players to stand up and shut up.

On ABC, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that Trump “can use whatever language he wants” and NFL players should “do free speech on their own time.”

On Fox News Sunday, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short defended Trump’s stance calling for NFL players, who don’t stand while the U.S. national anthem is played during NFL games, to be fired.

When asked by Wallace if the president regrets “opening the racial wounds started after Charlottesville,” Short said he doesn’t think the president has done so. He said that high school coaches across America are getting punished and disciplined for leading their players in prayer, while NFL players who take the knee rather than stand for the anthem are honored as martyrs in the media.

“The president is pointing out that that shouldn’t be accepted. They have a first amendment right to do that, but NFL owners also have a right to fire those players,” said Short.

The intimidation tactics of Trump, now validated by White House officials, appear to be backfiring. The anthem protests in the NFL are now expanding.

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