Friday, Trump said he would ask NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to recommend people for pardon, people they believe have been treated unfairly by the justice system.

CNN reported Friday:

“I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated,” Trump said at White House Friday. Trump’s contentious relationship with the NFL reached a peak last year when he lambasted players who took a knee during the National Anthem to protest institutionalized racism and police brutality.

“You have a lot of people in the NFL in particular, but in sports leagues, they’re not proud enough to stand for our National Anthem. I don’t like that,” Trump said Friday, also insisting that players should not remain in the locker room when the “Star Spangled Banner” is playing.

“What I’m going to do is, I’m going to say to them instead of talk … I am 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,” Trump said. “And I understand that.”

He added, “If the athletes have friends of theirs or people they know about that have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know.”

Trump called his presidential power to pardon people a “beautiful thing,” adding that “you got to get it right.” The President also floated a pardon for posthumous boxing great Muhammad Ali, though the athlete’s attorney said that is “unnecessary” because the Supreme Court overturned his previous conviction.

Trump recently disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from visiting the White House after the full team refused to visit, but rather, planned to send a small delegation to represent the entire team.

The official White House response criticized kneeling during the National Anthem.

But this latest move by Trump is about as good a response as I can imagine. The right habitually glosses over the fact that while sometimes overstated or plied for victimhood, there is much about our justice system that is far from just and particular populations who are disproportionately impacted.

The entire point of kneeling during the national anthem (regardless of how insufferable Kaepernick may be) was to bring awareness of just that. Tactics for doing so and the message it sends to those who fight and have fought for our right to proudly fly the flag certainly leave something to be desired. Sure, there are probably some who took part in the protest whose motives were less than pure, but that’s certainly not true for them all.

For all his blustering and bloviating, Trump appears to be listening to those desperate to be heard and that’s certainly worthy of commendation.


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