President Trump lauds NFL policy banning kneeling for national anthem: ‘Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country’

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MANCHESTER, NH – MARCH 19: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to speak to supporters, local politicians and police officers at an event at Manchester Community College on March 19, 2018 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The president addressed the ongoing opioid crisis which has had a devastating impact on cities and counties across the nation. In Manchester overdoses through early March were up 23 percent from this time last year. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump praised an NFL policy banning kneeling during the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” saying that “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country” if you don’t stand for the anthem.

Trump spoke to “Fox & Friends” in an interview that aired Thursday. The policy forbids players from sitting or taking a knee on the field during the anthem but allows them to stay in the locker room. Any violations of the new rules would result in fines against teams.

“I think that’s good,” Trump said in the interview that taped Wednesday. “I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Trump last fall called on team owners to fire players who followed former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead by kneeling during the national anthem. During a rally, he referred to an NFL player making a gesture during “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a “son of a bitch” who should be fired.

The president’s comments spurred a national conversation about patriotism and the nation’s symbols and the use of peaceful protest. Trump said in the interview that he thought “the people” pushed for the new policy.

“I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward,” Trump said. He added: “you know, that’s something ideally could have been taken care of when it first started, it would have been a lot easier, but if they did that, they did the right thing.”

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