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Trump Lashes Out and Says He Isn’t ‘Preoccupied’ with NFL But ‘Ashamed’ of Protests

It was a “gotcha” moment plain as day.

President Trump was standing with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden on Tuesday afternoon. Each leader had just finished a statement summarizing the conversations they had been having about issues affecting the two countries.

It was now time for the first media question.

“There’s some concern that you were preoccupied with the NFL instead of dealing with Puerto Rico. Why isn’t that a fair assessment?” came the question.

Trump, who earlier in the press conference had addressed the disaster response to Puerto Rico, fired right back.

“Well, I wasn’t preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed of what was taking place, because to me that was a very important moment,” he said.

On Friday, Trump denounced NFL protesters and has since reiterated his position.

“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 preoccupied. Not at all. Not at all. I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work,” Trump said.

Trump them made sure the reporter understood why speaking out was important.

“And to be honest with you, that’s an important function of working. Its 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,” Trump said.

“And they were fighting for our country. They were fighting for our flag. They were fighting for our national anthem. And for people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem, I think is disgraceful,” he said.

Trump then shifted to cover all parts of the question, reminding the media that he had just shared with them comments from Puerto Rico’s governor praising the federal response.

“So I will also say that — again, I read you part of his quote — but the governor of Puerto Rico is so thankful for the great job that we’re doing,” Trump said, adding, “It’s the most difficult job because its on the island. It’s on an island in the middle of the ocean. It’s out in the ocean. You can’t just drive your trucks there from other states.”

“And the governor said we are doing a great job. In fact, he thanked me specifically for FEMA and all of the first responders in Puerto Rico. And we’re also mentioning with that the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was devastated. So we are totally focused on that,” Trump said.

Trump then reminded the media that respect for the flag is not trivial.

“But at the same time, it doesn’t take me long to put out a wrong, and maybe, well, get it right. I think it’s a very important thing for the NFL to not allow people to kneel during the playing of our national anthem, to respect our country and to respect our flag,” he said.