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Super Bowl champs toss flag back at Trump

President Donald Trump sings the national anthem at

President Donald Trump sings the national anthem at the White House on Tuesday. Credit: Bloomberg / Andrew Harrer

See no Eagles

No Philadelphia Eagles player ever actually took a knee or stayed behind in the locker room when the national anthem was played during their Super Bowl championship season.

But most chose to stay behind rather than accept a White House invitation from President Donald Trump, resenting his relentless attacks on NFL players who staged the silent protests.

Upon learning how few would come to Tuesday’s event, Trump angrily disinvited the rest rather than get shown up by an undersized crowd. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem,” a Trump statement said.

No, that’s not it, wide receiver Torrey Smith said. He explained long before the invite came that if someone “called my peers and my friends SOBs, you would understand why I wouldn’t want to go to that party.”

Safety Malcolm Jenkins said his teammates help their communities “because we love this country” and will keep fighting for “racial and social equality.” Instead of Trump acknowledging their cause, he said, “the decision was made to lie, and paint the picture that these players are anti-America, anti-flag and anti-military.”

Which remains Trump’s position, as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made clear in her briefing. She accused the Eagles of pulling a “political stunt” after signaling they’d bring a bigger turnout. See Laura Figueroa Hernandez’s story for Newsday.

The song remains the same

Trump made it clear he will keep on stoking his battle with NFL players to gain more culture-war yardage. With the players disinvited, he staged in its place a “Celebration of America” with military bands on the White House South Lawn.

Still invited, supposedly, were 1,000 Eagles fans, but many in the crowd were White House staffers and Republican officials, and the team loyalties of some seemed uncertain. A Philadelphia TV reporter said he asked six of them to name the Eagles’ quarterback during the Super Bowl; none of them knew. (Answer: Nick Foles.)

Trump sang along for part of “God Bless America” but seemed to not know the words for the rest of the song (video here).

Don’t even ask

LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the superstar leaders of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, have been jawing at each other during the NBA finals, but they’re together on this: Whichever team wins doesn’t want to go to Trump’s White House.

“I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway. It won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going,” James told a news conference.

“I agree with ‘Bron,” Curry said. The Warriors wouldn’t go after they won last year. “Pretty sure the way we handled things last year, we’d stay consistent with that,” he said.

Janison: Clinton fatigue

It’s standard fare now for Trump to try to deflect questions about his conduct by pointing at Bill and Hillary Clinton. The former president this week helped him out.

In light of the #MeToo movement, Bill Clinton faces a revival of static over his treatment of and relations with women over the decades. His defense on NBC the other day left the audience short of nostalgic.

But reminders may persist, with the investigation and impeachment case against Clinton offering legal guideposts on where the probe of Trump could go. See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

No peace with Justice

As predictable as the sunrise now is Trump’s frustration with the Justice Department for doing too little to protect him and punish his enemies.

Tuesday’s morning tweets led off with the president’s impatience about the Justice inspector general’s probe into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation under then-director James Comey.

“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey. Numerous delays,” the president wrote. “Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker!” The report’s release is expected in the coming weeks, according to The Washington Post.

There was also a new round of abuse of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself ... I would have quickly picked someone else,” Trump groused.

See Figueroa’s story for Newsday.

Swamp-fried chicken

The tire fire of ethics questions about EPA chief Scott Pruitt just got higher. Three months after he was sworn in, Pruitt and one of his aides at the agency contacted executives of Chick-fil-A to try to get his wife a franchise with the fast-food chicken chain, The Washington Post reported.

Pruitt also approached the chief executive of Concordia, a New York nonprofit organization, resulting in a freelance gig for his wife organizing the group’s annual conference.

What else is happening

  • Trump's lawyers appealed a Manhattan federal court ruling that it’s unconstitutional for him to block critics from his Twitter account, reports Newsday’s John Riley.
  • As Trump urged, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday canceled most of the Senate’s August recess to try to confirm more of the president’s nominees, reports Newsday’s Tom Brune. It will also cut into campaign time for 10 vulnerable Democrats up for re-election.
  • A Manhattan state Supreme Court judge set deadlines that could make Trump answer questions under oath by early 2019 in former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos’ suit against him. Zervos accused Trump of defamation for calling her a liar when she said he sexually assaulted her.
  • The federal school safety commission created by Trump after February’s mass shooting at a Florida high school will not examine the role of guns in school violence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday. “That is not part of the commission’s charge per se,” she told a Senate subcommittee.
  • Melania Trump on Wednesday will make her first appearance in front of news cameras in 26 days, CNN reported. She will join her husband for a briefing at FEMA headquarters to discuss hurricane preparedness.
  • Trump tells aides he is strongly considering the pardon that Kim Kardashian lobbied him to grant to Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman serving a life sentence on drug possession and money-laundering charges, but some top aides don’t believe she deserves one, The Washington Post reports.
  • Kelly Sadler, the Trump communications aide who made a tasteless joke about “dying” Sen. John McCain last month, was dismissed Tuesday, CNN reported. The White House did not comment on the reason.
  • Presidential propaganda du jour via Twitter blames Democrats (again) for perceived failures of a GOP-controlled Congress; calls the Russia probe a "witch hunt" (again) and promotes Fox News (again). 

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