President Trump on Tuesday addressed the controversy he ignited after calling NFL players who kneel during the national anthem "sons of bitches," claiming his comments did not overshadow plans to to help Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
"I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL, I was ashamed of what was taking place," Trump said at a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden. "To me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem. To me the NFL situation is a very important situation."
Trump added that he was partly inflamed by the decision to kneel because he had recently seen the suffering of veterans who had sustained loss of limbs fighting for the country, and that kneeling symbolized disrespect for those veterans. He also insisted that the Puerto Rican government was pleased with the help it has received from the federal government following the hurricane.
Read the full remarks in response to the question below:
I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL, I was ashamed of what was taking place. Because to me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem. To me the NFL situation is a very important situation. I've heard that before about was I pre-occupied. Not at all, not at all. I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work. And to be honest with you that's an important function of working. It's called respect for our country. Many people have died, many, many people. Many people are so horribly injured. I was at Walter Reed Hospital recently and I saw so many great young people and they're missing legs and they're missing arms and they've been so badly injured. And they were fighting for our country. They were fighting for our flag. And for people to disrespect that by kneeling during the national anthem I think is disgraceful.
So I will also say that I read you part of his quote but the Governor of Puerto Rico is so thankful for the job that we're doing. We did a great job in Texas, a great job in Florida, a great job in Louisiana, we hit little pieces of Georgia and Alabama and frankly we're doing — and its the most difficult job because its on an island, its on an island in the middle of the ocean. Its out in the ocean. You can't just drive your trucks there from other states.