Trump calls Hillary Clinton the ‘worst’ loser ever, after she says he’s ‘disgraced’ the office

President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are at it again.

Trump lashed out at his former rival on Saturday, calling Clinton “the worst (and biggest) loser of all time,” after the ex-Democratic nominee made pointed criticisms in a series of interviews about Trump’s political and moral legitimacy.

The president tweeted: “Give it another try in three years,” in an apparent attempt to bait Clinton to run for president again.

The president’s remarks followed two interviews on Friday, in which the former Democratic nominee differentiated between sexual assault accusations against GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and Democratic Sen. Al Franken. Clinton questioned why Trump was never hurt by past allegations from women that he behaved improperly, and tried to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Trump’s win by invoking Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 general election.

In an interview with Mother Jones, Clinton said she can’t explain why Trump’s candidacy was not affected by the allegations or his bullying of his rival candidates on the campaign trail.

“I don’t understand a lot about how he got away with so many attacks and insults and behaviors that allowed him to win the presidency,” the publication reported Clinton as saying.

Trump has always denied allegations made by several women to the New York Times before the election, and around the time of the release of the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape. In the second presidential debate, Trump admitted to bragging on the tape about kissing and groping women, but said he actually never did any of those things.

On WABC radio, Clinton said the Franken situation differs from Moore because the Minnesota senator apologized, and said he would “gladly cooperate” with an ethics investigation. “I don’t hear that from Roy Moore or Donald Trump,” Clinton said. “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump who have done neither.”

The president has been blasting Franken, while trying to stay out of the Moore situation. Trump’s has said the voters of Alabama should decide on whether to elect Moore in next month’s special election.

The former secretary of State — appearing to promote her new book “What Happened” — also told WABC radio that Trump has “disgraced the office” of the presidency. “I didn’t think he’d be as bad as he turned out to be,” she added.

Clinton, also a former senator from New York and first lady, called the GOP tax reform plan “bad policy” that’s “downright cruel” to working Americans. “I will predict to you that a number of Republican members of Congress who voted for it, will lose their seats in 2018.”

[CNBC]

Trump reverts to campaign-trail name-calling in Twitter rant calling for probe of DNC

President Trump issued a flurry of tweets over a five-hour span Friday urging the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee over a joint fundraising agreement they signed in August 2015.

Trump’s accusations follow publication by Politico of an excerpt from former acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile’s upcoming book. Brazile alleges she found “proof” that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor.

Previous presidents have avoided even seeming to direct the Justice Department on whom to investigate — but not Trump.

Trump reverted to his campaign-trail name-calling of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), again referring to her as “Pocahontas.”

He also in one post called Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “Crazy Bernie.” Trump has described this kind of rhetoric as “modern day presidential.”

Trump’s epic Twitter rant took place in the hours and minutes before he was set to depart the South Lawn via Marine One for his Air Force One flight to Hawaii to kick off his 12-day swing through Asia.

Implicit in the messages was more criticism of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, though Trump did not mention the nation’s top prosecutor by name.

Asked later Friday if he would fire the attorney general if he doesn’t investigate Trump’s Democratic political rivals, the president said, “I don’t know.”

Two White House officials quickly cautioned against reading too much into Trump’s comments, reiterating that he has no plans to fire Sessions. And although the White House maintains that Trump’s tweets are “official record,” it says Trump has not ordered Sessions or the FBI to do anything related to Democrats.

The aides said the tweets were a media savvy way to deflect attention from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

This week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, who also had a role in the campaign, were indicted on 12 counts, and former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying about his dealings with Russians who were offering “dirt” on Clinton.

[Los Angeles Times]

The Justice Department Declares War on Attorneys Who Dare to Oppose the Trump Administration

On Friday, the Department of Justice filed an astonishing appeal with the Supreme Court, urging the justices to intervene in the Jane Doe case that seemed to have ended last week. Doe, an undocumented 17-year-old in a federally funded Texas shelter, was denied abortion access by the Trump administration, which argues that it can force undocumented minors to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. On Oct. 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Doe must be allowed to terminate her pregnancy, which she did the next day. Now the DOJ is urging the Supreme Court to vacate that decision—and punish the ACLU attorneys who represented Doe.

Make no mistake: With this filing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department has declared war on attorneys and groups who dare to oppose it in court.

Because Doe obtained her abortion, Friday’s appeal might seem pointless, presenting no live controversy for the justices to adjudicate. But the DOJ has three goals here. First, it wants the Supreme Court to punish the D.C. Circuit for issuing a decision that it believes to be egregiously wrong by wiping the entire ruling off the books. Second, the DOJ wants to eradicate a decision that sets a legal precedent it despises. Doe’s lawsuit was initially brought as part of a class action, and the ACLU will continue to litigate its broader claim against the Trump administration’s absolute bar on abortion access for undocumented minors. As long as the D.C. Circuit’s decision remains on the books, those lawsuits are almost guaranteed to succeed. The Justice Department wants it gone so that it can litigate this issue anew.

Third, and most importantly, Friday’s appeal is a flagrant effort to crucify the individual attorneys who represented Doe, and to terrify likeminded lawyers into acquiescence. The DOJ thus asks the Supreme Court to force Doe’s lawyers to “show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken” against the ACLU—either by the court itself or by state bars—for “material misrepresentations and omissions” designed to thwart an appeal.

In other words, the DOJ is using the full weight of a government agency to threaten professional ruin upon the lawyers who defended Jane Doe’s constitutional right to abortion access.

The DOJ claims that after the D.C. Circuit ruled in Doe’s favor on Oct. 24, government attorneys believed they had until Oct. 26 until Doe got her abortion. Under Texas law, women must obtain “counseling” at least 24 hours before terminating her pregnancy, and this counseling must be performed by the same physician who performs the procedure. Doe had already received this counseling from a Texas doctor when the D.C. Circuit issued its decision. According to the DOJ, ACLU lawyers told the government that this physician would not be working and that Doe would receive another counseling appointment on the morning of October 25, and get the abortion to October 26. Government lawyers asked to be kept informed of the timing of the procedure, and they claim that ACLU lawyers agreed to comply with their request. They also say that the DOJ planned to ask for a stay on Oct. 25—but on that same morning, ACLU attorneys arranged for Doe to visit the doctor who had already counseled her, allowing him to perform the procedure.

Put differently, the government argues that the ACLU owed government lawyers a notification of when Doe’s legal abortion would occur. The end goal here seems to have been to try to continue to block the abortion until it would be illegal to terminate, even though she had secured an unqualified right to do so. (Doe was 16 weeks pregnant by that point; Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks, and the government had already delayed the abortion by a month.) The DOJ also claims that Doe’s lawyers had the responsibility to keep answering their phone calls to update them on her status: “Efforts to reach respondent’s counsel were met with silence, until approximately 10 a.m. EST, when one of her lawyers told the government that Ms. Does had undergone an abortion.”

What really seems to enrage the DOJ, however, is that Doe didn’t attend a second counseling session—which would have been duplicative and wasteful, and caused her yet more needless delay—because the physician who counseled her the first time later agreed to perform the procedure. If ever there were an indicator of the un-distilled bad faith at work here, it’s government lawyers insisting that a non-person with no rights undergo a second round of the same counseling, not for the purposes of medical advice, but so that they would have more time to thwart her choice.

These allegations of wrongdoing are laughably flimsy and outwardly vindictive. Even under the DOJ’s contorted narrative, it’s obvious that the ACLU simply acted efficiently, and the Trump administration is bitter and embarrassed that it lost. The government argues that the ACLU “at least arguably had an obligation to notify the government” that Doe would terminate on Oct. 25—an “incredibly significant development.” But that’s just not how this works. The government had sufficient time to ask the Supreme Court to stay the D.C. Circuit’s decision before Doe terminated. In fact, Texas was already prepared with its own amicus brief backing the DOJ. But the government didn’t act in time. And it’s not the ACLU’s fault that its client secured her constitutional rights while the government dallied in its efforts to exert control of her reproductive capacities. This week-late effort to blame the ACLU for its “arguable” responsibility to ensure that the government could continue to harm their client is not just an effort to save face, but also an attempt to warn attorneys that zealous effectuation of their duties to the clients will now be punished.

The Justice Department’s crusade against the ACLU is especially galling in light of the fact that there was sanctionable misconduct here—on the part of the government itself. Scott Lloyd, the official who blocked Doe and other minors from abortion access, likely violated a long-standing federal settlement agreement in his anti-abortion crusade. Under this agreement, undocumented minors like Doe must be allowed access to family planning services, which Lloyd intentionally and repeatedly withheld. He even instituted his anti-abortion views as official government policy in obvious violation of the federal settlement.

If anyone deserves to be punished here, it is surely Lloyd, who flouted the law for purely ideological purposes. But instead of investigating its own employee for potential misconduct, the government is going after Doe’s ACLU attorneys for defending her constitutional rights. This is a shocking assault on the nation’s civil rights attorneys, and an unprecedented effort by the DOJ to slander and shame those attorneys who defend their clients’ rights against the government’s abuse of the law. After today, lawyers who question the Trump administration’s legal views should be aware that they have targets on their backs.

[Slate]

Trump: ‘Sloppy Michael Moore show on Broadway was a total bomb’

President Trump on Saturday hit at documentary filmmaker Michael Moore following reports his anti-Trump Broadway show was closing after a 13-week run that fell short of its potential gross.

“While not at all presidential I must point out that the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB and was forced to close. Sad!” Trump tweeted.

BroadwayWorld.com, a website that tracks Broadway ticket sales, pegged the show’s final gross at about $4.2 million.

In its first full week, “The Terms of My Surrender” grossed $456,195. But the show’s earnings gradually sank in the weeks that followed, before seeing a surge in its final weeks.

However, the show, as Trump claims in his tweet, was not forced to close.

Playbill fact-checked the president’s tweet writing: “While the show was not a box-office front-runner (grossing less than half of its potential most weeks and drawing in a capacity hovering in the mid 70 percentile), it did play its fully scheduled run.”

The anti-Trump, one-man show began previews at Broadway’s Belasco Theatre on July 28, and paid tribute to the liberal director’s career in film and political activism.

Moore has been an outspoken critic of Trump throughout his campaign and presidency, and in August led his Broadway audience through Manhattan to protest the president at Trump Tower over his remarks following the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

[The Hill]

 

Trump can’t even greet a group of journalists’ kids without taking a nasty swipe at their parents

President Donald Trump insulted the parents of children dressed in Halloween costumes during an Oval Office event.

“I can not believe the media produced such beautiful children,” Trump said of the photo-op when young kids of White House journalists visit in costume.

The comments came the same week Trump claimed he is not uncivil because he went to an Ivy League school.

“Do you know they are?” Trump asked as he pointed to the reporters against the sounds of motor-driven cameras clicking away.

“They’re the friendly media, that’s the press,” Trump told the children, one of whom started to cry.

“Are you going to grow up to be like your parents?” Trump asked one young girl. “Hmmmmm? Don’t answer, that can only get me in trouble, that question.”

“Nah, you have wonderful parents, right?” Trump reassured.

As President Trump began to hand out souvenirs, he again returned to his fixation on the media.

[Raw Story]

Media

Trump blasts ‘wacky & totally unhinged’ Tom Steyer after impeachment ad campaign

President Donald Trump blasted Tom Steyer on Friday, calling the Democratic megadonor “wacky” and “totally unhinged.”

“Wacky & totally unhinged Tom Steyer, who has been fighting me and my Make America Great Again agenda from beginning, never wins elections!” Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Steyer, a California billionaire activist, is launching a $10 million national ad campaign calling for the president’s impeachment. The 60-second TV spot began running last week, according to Forbes.

The ad played Friday morning on “Fox & Friends,” likely catching the president’s eye.

Steyer opens the ad narrating over clips of the president and a shot of North Korea. He says that Trump has brought the U.S. “to the brink of nuclear war” with North Korea and is “accused of obstructing justice” with his May firing of then-FBI Director James Comey and “of violating the Constitution by taking money from foreign governments and threatening to shut down news organizations that report the truth.”

“If that isn’t the case for impeaching and removing a dangerous president, then what has our government become?” says Steyer, speaking directly into the camera and identified onscreen as an “American Citizen.” “I’m Tom Steyer, and, like you, I’m a citizen who knows it’s up to us to do something. It’s why I’m funding this effort to raise our voices together and demand that elected officials take a stand on impeachment.”

Steyer adds that a Republican-led Congress “once impeached a president for far less, yet today people in Congress and his own administration know that this president is a clear and present danger who’s mentally unstable and armed with nuclear weapons, and they do nothing.”

He asks Americans to join him and tell their member of Congress “they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what’s political and start doing what’s right.”

“Our country depends on it,” he warns.

The ad encourages viewers to sign a petition at NeedToImpeach.com.

Immediately after tweeting about Steyer, Trump thanked Fox News’ morning show for its coverage.

“Thank you @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted, just one minute after his tweet about Steyer. “Really great job and show!”

[Politico]

Media

Here is the ad Trump was likely responding to

Trump says his recollection of call with Gold Star widow is better than hers

President Trump on Wednesday said he has a better recollection of his condolence call to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in Niger than she does.

Trump told reporters during a gathering at the White House that he used Sgt. La David Johnson’s name “right from the beginning” of the call and with “no hesitation.”

Trump added that he had a chart with the fallen soldier’s name in front of him during the call.

The president also said he has “one of the great memories of all time” while pointing to his own head.

Trump’s comments conflict with Myeshia Johnson’s account of the call. She said that the president did not remember her husband’s name during the call. “I was extremely nice to her. I’ve never seen her, I’ve never met her, but she sounds like a lovely lady. I was extremely courteous, as I was to everyone else,” Trump said Wednesday, referring to the Gold Star widow.

“I respect her, I respect her family, I certainly respect La David. Who I, by the way, called La David right from the beginning,” Trump added.

Myeshia Johnson backed up a description of the call by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), who said the president was disrespectful to the Johnson family.

Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly have both repeatedly rejected Wilson’s claims.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump spars with widow of slain soldier about condolence call

Myeshia Johnson, the widow of a soldier killed earlier this month in Niger, said Monday that a condolence call from President Donald Trump “made me cry even worse,” prompting Trump to immediately push back against part of her emotional account via Twitter.

“The president said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyways and I was — it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name was because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said ‘La David,’” Johnson told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name and that’s what hurt me the most because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risks his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? And that’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier.”

An hour after Johnson’s ABC interview aired, Trump responded on Twitter to rebut a portion of her account. “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Trump claimed in his online post.

The interview and Trump’s online response to it drags the controversy surrounding the president’s condolence call to Johnson into its second week, prolonging a news cycle that has resurfaced questions about the president’s treatment of Gold Star families. The issue of Trump’s conversation with Johnson has mushroomed just as the White House has sought to focus attention on the president’s proposed tax cuts and reforms and has brought back memories of Trump’s feud with the Gold Star Khan family, who railed against the president at last summer’s Democratic National Convention.

The phone call between Johnson and the president became a point of contention last week when Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), a family friend who was traveling with the widow when she took Trump’s call on speakerphone, told reporters that the president had struggled to remember Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s name and said the slain soldier knew what he signed up for when he enlisted.

As the week wore on, the White House lashed out at Wilson, accusing the hat-wearing congresswoman of being “all hat, no cattle” and suggesting that she had sought to politicize the soldier’s death. Trump himself, in a post to Twitter, wrote that Wilson had “totally fabricated what I said to the wife of a soldier who died in action (and I have proof). Sad!”

The Trump administration’s most powerful defense came last Thursday from White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, who shared with reporters what happens when a service member dies and recalled details from the death of his own son, a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Kelly shared the words of condolence that his friend, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, had offered him on his son’s death — that “he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed” — a similar sentiment to what Trump sought to express on his call with Johnson.

Kelly, in his briefing room remarks, also lashed out at Wilson, referring to her as an “empty barrel” as he recalled the 2015 dedication of an FBI office in Miami, where he said the Florida lawmaker inappropriately boasted that she had been instrumental in securing the funding for the facility. But the chief of staff’s criticism was quickly discredited: Wilson had not yet been elected to Congress when the money for the FBI building was appropriated, and video of her remarks from the ceremony shows her celebrating the bipartisan legislation she spearheaded to name the new FBI building after two agents killed in a 1986 firefight, not to secure funding for the building.

The White House stood behind Kelly’s statement and Sanders told reporters Friday that “If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with the four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Despite the White House’s insistence that Wilson had mischaracterized and fabricated the tenor of Trump’s call, Myeshia Johnson’s account of the conversation aligned with the lawmaker’s account.

“Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 percent correct,” she said, explaining that six people, including Wilson, had heard the call as the family made its way to meet the slain soldier’s remains at Dover Air Force Base. “The phone was on speakerphone. Why would we fabricate something like that?”

The widow said she was left “very, very upset and hurt, very” by the president’s call.

She also said that many of her questions surrounding her husband’s death have not yet been answered by the military and that she has not been allowed to view her husband’s body. She said she has not been told how he was killed or why it took two days from the time La David Johnson’s unit was attacked for the military to recover his body.

“Why couldn’t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband, they wouldn’t let me,” she said. “I need to see him so I will know that that is my husband. I don’t know nothing. They won’t show me a finger, a hand. I know my husband’s body from head to toe, and they won’t let me see anything. I don’t know what’s in that box. It could be empty for all I know, but I need — I need to see my husband.”

[Politico]

A college professor criticized Trump. Now the White House wants an investigation

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants the University of Las Vegas to investigate one of its professors after she strongly criticized President Donald Trump and the consequences of his election as the city reeled from the mass shooting.

Recordings of assistant professor Tessa Winkelmann showed her speaking to her class about the president’s violent rhetoric and the power of his words.

“Right when he got elected, I told my classes, three semesters ago, that some of us won’t be affected by this presidency, but others are going to die,” Winkelmann said in the video, obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Other people will die because of this.”

One student was “dumbfounded” and said the professor’s comments were “appalling,” in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, the Review-Journal reported.

“He’s [Trump] threatened to declare violence against North Korea and other places,” the professor added. “And words, especially if they’re coming from someone who is the president, have consequences. . . I don’t know that these events would have inevitably happened whether or not he got elected, but he has rhetorical powers every president has to encourage or to discourage (violence). So far all he’s done is to encourage violence.”

The White House condemned the comments and said the school should “look into” the professor’s actions.

“It is sad she is teaching students such divisive, inaccurate and irresponsible rhetoric,” Sanders said. “She should be ashamed of herself, and the university should look into it. What a terrible example to set for students.”

Winkelmann apologized in an emailed statement to the Review-Journal and said she wished she had been “more thoughtful in how I directed the conversation.”

“This week has been very difficult for members of our community, and we have allowed students space in our classes to discuss how they have been affected and to openly convey their feelings,” she wrote. “I regret that my comments caused more pain during this difficult time. Emotions were running high and I wish I would have been more thoughtful in how I directed the conversation.”

UNLV issued a statement that said Winkelmann’s comments were insensitive, but did not announce any potential disciplinary action against her.

“While we respect academic freedom in the classroom and the right to free speech, we believe the comments were insensitive, especially given the series of events this week and the healing process that has begun in the community,” university spokesman Tony Allen said, according to the Review-Journal.

Unfortunately this is not the first time the White House has commented on civilians who are outspoken in their criticism of the president. On Tuesday morning the president once again attacked the recently suspended ESPN anchor Jemele Hill as part of his long-running crusade against NFL players who have knelt during the national anthem in protest of social and racial injustice.

Press secretary Sanders also previously said Hill had committed a “fireable offense” when the anchor called the president a white supremacist on Twitter.

Conservatives have long advocated for free speech on college campuses, yet have remained quiet when the White House suggested disciplinary action be taken against a professor who was well within her free speech rights.

[Salon]

Trump targets Jemele Hill following ESPN anchor’s suspension

Donald Trump lashed out at ESPN anchor Jemele Hill on Tuesday morning, one day after she was suspended by her employer for her public criticism of two NFL owners’ directives over silent player protests during the national anthem.

The Disney-owned broadcaster suspended Hill for two weeks on Monday for a series of tweets in response to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ comments that he would have benched any Cowboys player who “disrespects the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem. Hill had previously tweeted that Trump is a “bigot” and “a white supremacist”.

Hill, who had said that those who took objection to Jones’ remark should look at the team’s advertisers, later tweeted that she was not urging an NFL boycott but pointing out the “unfair burden” for players on teams with rules against protesting the anthem. She also referenced Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, whose team will now be required to stand for the anthem or remain in the locker room after “Trump changed that whole paradigm of what protest is”.

Trump took aim at the ESPN veteran in a tweet on Tuesday morning, writing: “With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!”

Hill’s co-anchor on the nightly SportsCenter highlight show, Michael Smith, sat out Monday night’s telecast in a decision a network source characterized as mutually made by Smith and ESPN. He will anchor the show alone for the duration of Hill’s suspension, the network said.

“Jemele Hill has been suspended for two weeks for a second violation of our social media guidelines,” the network said in a statement. “She previously acknowledged letting her colleagues and company down with an impulsive tweet. In the aftermath, all employees were reminded of how individual tweets may reflect negatively on ESPN and that such actions would have consequences. Hence this decision.”

Hill’s initial criticisms of Trump last month prompted also a response from the White House, albeit through press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said during a briefing that Hill’s comments about Trump were “a fireable offense by ESPN”.

“I think that’s one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make,” Sanders said at the time.

The NFL Players Association has defended players’ right to protest.

Trump’s former Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton, also backed the players, saying in a speech on Monday, “They are protesting racism and injustice, and they have every right to do so.”

The president continued his broadside on the National Football League in a separate tweet on Tuesday morning, saying the league should not be given tax breaks, a long-simmering controversy surrounding America’s richest league, which is expected to take in $14bn in revenue this year.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote.

It was not clear what exactly Trump was demanding, and representatives for the White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The NFL gave up its federal tax-exempt status in 2015, according to media reports, although US states and localities still offer the multi-billion dollar league tax breaks in order to attract teams and to finance stadiums.

Trump has been on a tear for weeks against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem played before games, saying the gesture disrespects the country. His strongly worded call last month for players who did this to be fired touched off an initially sharp response, including from some team owners and coaches.

The players’ silent demonstration, which began last year in protest against police violence toward racial minorities, was embraced more widely in reaction to Trump’s more recent comments, with more players taking the knee while others chose to lock arms.

A number of Republican lawmakers suggested in September that tax sweeteners should end given the protests, the Washington Post reported.

On Sunday, vice president Mike Pence walked out of an NFL game after some players knelt. The next day, Trump himself invoked the episode in a fundraising email.

Critics of Trump, a Republican, have said he is fanning a controversy over the national anthem at NFL games to distract from pressing issues his administration is dealing with, from a powerful hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico to tensions with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

The first amendment of the US Constitution bars the government from limiting free speech, including prohibiting protests around the national anthem or punishing people who choose not to stand. The national anthem is played before every NFL football game and many other sporting events.

[The Guardian]

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