President Trump, in an exclusive interview with "Fox & Friends," said that NFL owners are “afraid” to act against their players protesting the national anthem at games across the country.
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“The NFL is in a box and they have to do something about it,” Trump told Fox News' Pete Hegseth, in the interview aired Thursday morning.
“I think they’re afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said.
In the same interview, Trump also touted the newly released Republican tax reform framework, describing the plan as the “largest reduction in terms of dollars in any plan in the history of the country.”
And he insisted he will hold firm on demanding a 20 percent corporate tax rate, down from 35 percent.
“It’s going to be something really special,” Trump said. “The 20 percent is non-negotiable.”
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Trump said he wanted to start with “15 percent,” but noted that the “numbers really work at 20.”
“Right now, we are the highest taxed nation in the world,” Trump said. “When I finish the plan, we’ll be among the lowest.”
While the tax proposal will command the focus of the White House and Capitol Hill in the coming weeks and months, Trump is still pressuring the NFL on the sidelines.
The president reiterated that the NFL has a wide range of rules, suggesting the league should apply new rules to those who would protest the anthem by kneeling.
“They have rules for everything—you can’t dance in the end zone, you can’t wear pink socks relative to breast cancer—they have rules for everything,” the president told Hegseth, a “Fox & Friends” weekend co-host and Fox News political analyst.
He added: “Why aren’t they honoring this country by enforcing a rule that’s been in existence for a long time?”
But he said, “I have so many friends that are owners, and they are in a box.”
Trump’s comments come after days of back-and-forth criticism with the NFL and its players for “disrespecting our country.”
Trump suggested that stadiums are “losing” fans amid the controversy. “The stadiums are losing—there are a lot of empty seats, I couldn’t even believe it,” Trump said.
Trump kicked up a firestorm over the kneeling protests last week, after criticizing NFL players for not standing for the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘get that son of a b—off the field right now? Out! He’s fired! He’s fired!” Trump said Friday, drawing criticism from multiple NFL players, as well as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In the days following, more than 100 NFL players from teams across the country kneeled or locked arms.
When asked whether the NFL feud was a “distraction,” Trump said “no,” touting his administration’s accomplishments.
“It’s not a distraction at all because I’m doing a lot. We’ve passed over 50 pieces of legislation, we have a Supreme Court judge, a much stronger military, much stronger borders now, we’re going to get the wall,” Trump told Hegseth. “The NFL cannot disrespect our country, they cannot disrespect our flag, or our national anthem.”