Mnuchin defends Trump: NFL players 'can do free speech on their own time'

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday that NFL players can “do free speech on their own time,” while defending President Trump’s attack on those who don’t stand during the national anthem.

Mnuchin also noted during an appearance on ABC News’ ‘This Week’ that this should be an NFL rule just like others.

“I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem,” Mnuchin said.

He argued that the issue is not about free speech.

“They can do free speech on their own time…this is about respect for the military and the first responders and the country,” Mnuchin added.

RELATED: Photos of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

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Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Trump's nominee for Treasury secretary, testifies during his Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 19, 2017.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin sits with Vanessa Trump (R), wife of Donald Trump Jr, before a swearing-in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, DC January 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Incoming Trump administration Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin departs after working a simulated crisis scenario during transition meetings at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Producer Steve Bing (L) and Honoree Steven Mnuchin recipient of the Philanthropic Leadership Award attend The Kaleidoscope Ball - Designing The Future benefitting the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA at Beverly Hills Hotel on April 17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for BWR)

Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, right, attends a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a hallmark of our democracy.

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 Steve Mnuchin and Lousie Linton arrive at the Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Jupiter Ascending' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

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Heather Mnuchin and Steve Mnuchin attend The Art Show Gala to Benefit The Henry Street Settlement at The Seventh Regiment Armory on February 23, 2005 in New York City.

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Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin attends the inaugural parade of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, January 20, 2017. Donald Trump was sworn in earlier as the 45th President of the United States.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Donald Trumps' Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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The controversy started after Trump said during a campaign-style rally in Alabama on Friday that the players who kneel during the national anthem should be “fired.”

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—-h off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’" Trump stated.

Despite widespread criticism, the president has continued to echo those thoughts on Twitter.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast,” Trump said in one of the tweets Sunday morning. “Fire or suspend!”

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