By Alana Abramson
September 26, 2017

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:

 

Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com.

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