WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump endorsed the NFL’s move to ban players from protesting the national anthem, telling Fox News Channel that athletes taking a knee in protest perhaps “shouldn’t be in the country.”
Trump, in a taped interview with “Fox and Friends” that aired Thursday morning, also used the appearance to continue pressing Congress to fully fund his proposed southern border wall and to take jabs at former FBI Director James Comey.
Asked about the National Football League’s announcement Wednesday that it would require players to stand for the anthem while on the field, Trump called the move by league owners the “right thing” but said he disagreed with a provision that allows players to stay in the locker rooms until the completion of the anthem.
“You shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there . . . maybe you shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said of those NFL players who last season knelt during the anthem to protest cases of police brutality against minorities.
Trump’s appearance with “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade was his second interview with the show in a month. The segment was filmed Wednesday in Bethpage after the president led a roundtable on MS-13 gang violence.
Trump told Kilmeade he was “disappointed” that lawmakers had only approved $1.6 billion of the $25 billion he is seeking for a fortified wall along the Mexico border. Without full funding, Trump said, he will not sign off on any legislation aimed at preserving the Obama-era DACA program, which provided temporary legal status to thousands of people brought to the country illegally as minors.
“Unless it includes a wall . . . a real wall . . . and unless it includes very strong border security, there will be no approvals from me,” Trump said.
The president also defended his decision to fire Comey last May, calling him a “rotten apple.”
“I’ve done a great service,” Trump said of that move.
Trump’s criticism came after he was asked about tweets by Comey that took aim at Trump for asserting on Twitter that the FBI had planted a spy in his 2016 presidential campaign.
The president’s allegations, which he has made repeatedly, stem from media reports that the FBI turned to a longtime informant to talk to at least three Trump campaign aides about their contacts with Russia. Intelligence sources have said the informant — a foreign policy scholar — was solely focused on the FBI’s broader effort to investigate Russian interference in the election.