White House Defends Trump's SOB Comments: 'Always Appropriate' to Defend the Flag

September 25, 2017

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Donald Trump's attacks on athletes who kneel during the national anthem on Monday, saying it is "always appropriate" for the president to defend the flag.

Trump set off a firestorm in the media and sports communities when he referred Friday to any player who does not stand during the national anthem as a "son of a bitch" who should be fired from his team.

Trump subsequently tweeted multiple times over the weekend that players should stand for the anthem or be removed from the team, and he said fans should not condone players who do so.

NFL owners and players slammed Trump for the remarks, and players across the league during Sunday's spate of games kneeled or locked arms in solidarity.

Asked if Trump regretted the "SOBs" comment, Sanders said it was less about Trump opposing something and more about him and millions of Americans being for "honoring our flag." Sanders read out an opinion piece that former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote in 2016, although she said it was from "this morning."

‘It's important to remember that our military is composed entirely of volunteers. It obviously takes a special kind of patriotism for people to volunteer to risk their life for their country. Theirs is not blind patriotism that pretends there is nothing wrong with the country," Dempsey wrote.

Sanders went on to quote Dempsey as saying he stood before the flag because the world was better off with the U.S. in it.

"I understand General Dempsey's position ... But did the president go too far in referring to these players as SOBs who should be fired?" Fox News reporter John Roberts asked.

"I think that it's always appropriate for the President of the United States to defend our flag, to defend the national anthem, and to defend the men and women who fought and died to defend it," Sanders said.

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49er who is now a free agent, began kneeling during the national anthem last year as a means of drawing attention to racial injustice. Since then, some players in the NFL and other leagues have followed suit.