President Donald Trump on Friday said he would like to meet with NFL players who protest during the national anthem to receive recommendations for people he should pardon.
Trump reiterated his stance that NFL players should all stand and be present for the national anthem.
It appeared to be the first time Trump has acknowledged that players are protesting social injustice, not the anthem or flag.
President Donald Trump on Friday said he wants to meet with NFL players who protest during the national anthem to get recommendations for further pardons.
Trump's comments appeared to be the first time he has acknowledged that players are protesting social injustice and police brutality rather than the anthem itself.
Trump said the protests, thus far, have been all "talk," but he wants players to recommend people he should pardon that have been treated unfairly by the justice system.
"What I'm going to do is, I'm going to say to them, instead of talk — it's all talk, talk, talk. We have a great country. You should stand for our national anthem. You shouldn't go in a locker room when our national anthem is played," Trump said.
"I'm going to ask all of those people to recommend to me, because that's what they're protesting, people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. And I understand that. I'm going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated — friends of theirs, or people that they know about — I'm going to take a look at those applications, and if I find, and my committee finds, that they're unfairly treated, we will pardon them, or at least let them out."
Trump's comments come in the midst of an attack on the NFL over players protests and a revised policy for the anthem. The league issued new rules this offseason that if players take the field for the national anthem, they must stand. However, if they don't want to, they can stay back in the locker room. Trump has been critical of the protests, as well as the NFL's new policy.
Trump on Friday also said he was considering pardoning Muhammad Ali for refusing to be inducted into the draft for the Vietnam War. However, Ali was never convicted, thus making a pardon unnecessary.