President Donald Trump claimed that “a lot of people” from the NFL have been calling and thanking him for signing legislation addressing concerns with the criminal justice system.
Trump also said during an interview broadcast Sunday that he and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have set aside their differences over players kneeling during the national anthem.
Trump relentlessly criticized the practice as being disrespectful to the American flag and he faulted Goodell for not doing enough to stop it. Players saw kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” as a prime opportunity to heighten public awareness of how minorities are treated by the criminal justice system.
The president pivoted to the new criminal justice law when he was asked if he thought the players who knelt had a point, and whether he was sensitive to their concerns that most victims of police violence are black. Trump said the legislation was the product of years of effort dating to before he took office.
“And I got it done and I’ve been, you know, really, a lot of people in the NFL have been calling and thanking me for it,” Trump said in the interview broadcast during CBS’ Super Bowl pre-game show. “They have been calling and thanking, you know, that people have been trying to get that taken care of and it’s now signed into law.”
The law gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders and will boost prisoner rehabilitation.
Trump then segued to his stance on kneeling during the anthem, without addressing the original question.
“I think that when you want to protest I think that’s great. But I don’t think you do it at the sake of our flag, at the sake of our national anthem. Absolutely,” he said.
The White House did not respond to emailed requests for information on which NFL figures have reached out to the president.
Asked whether he and Goodell had set aside their differences over kneeling, Trump said: “I think so … You have to respect our flag and our country. I want that as president. And I’d want that as a citizen and I have a very good relationship.”
Trump viewed Sunday’s matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams from the comfort of his private golf club in West Palm Beach. Upon arrival, he and his wife, Melania, were treated to a mini-concert by the Florida Atlantic University Marching Band.