President Donald Trump on Wednesday voiced strident support for the NFL owners' decision to punish players and teams for protests during the national anthem.
In an interview broadcast Thursday on "Fox & Friends," host Brian Kilemeade purported to give Trump the news. He explained that the league decided athletes could no longer kneel during the national anthem without incurring fines for themselves and their teams, but that they could stay in the locker room during the pregame ceremony.
Trump responded that he supported the punitive policy, but not the owners' attempt at compromise.
"Well, I think that's good, I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think its good," he said.
He then went further, saying that players who kneel during the national anthem should not be allowed to play, or maybe even to be US residents.
"You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldnt be playing. You shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldnt be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, and the NFL owners did the right thing if that's what they've done."
Taking Trump's extreme comments in stride, Kilmeade moved on and asked the president whether he felt he deserved credit for the league's decision. Trump has been the loudest voice condemning the players and the league for the protests, which quarterback Colin Kaepernick started in 2016 to highlight social injustice and police brutality against African-Americans.
"This was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward," Trump said. "This country's very smart. We have very smart people."