The president weighed in on the NFL-National Anthem situation and the possibility for passing tax reform through the Senate in an interview aired Thursday morning by 'Fox & Friends':
"I have so many friends that are owners," Trump said about the NFL. "And they're in a box."
He continued: "I mean, I've spoken to a couple of them. They say, 'we are in a situation where we have to do something.' I think they're afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth."
"And I think it's disgraceful," he added.
Transcript via Fox News:
PETE HEGSETH, HOST: You have certainly started a national conversation this week, Mr. President, on the NFL. You say the NFL situation is a very important situation. Your critics say it's been a distraction, but you say it's critical. And you talk about words like patriotism and citizenship.
Why is this such an important issue for you?
PRESIDENT DONAL TRUMP: Well, it is an important issue. It's not a distraction at all, because, you know, first of all, I'm doing a lot. As you know, we've passed over 50 pieces of legislation. We have a Supreme Court judge. We have a much stronger military. We have strong borders now. We're going to get the wall. We're going to get all the things that we said. And now we're going, as you know, today is the big day. We're announcing the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country.
So there's been no distraction. But the NFL cannot disrespect our country. They cannot disrespect our flag or our national anthem. And they can't have people sitting down or kneeling down during our national anthem.
And I saw this a year ago with Kaepernick. And I said this is a terrible thing. I thought it was terrible. And then it builds up a little bit and a little bit more and you see what's been happening. And then all of a sudden, you see more and more and more.
And I came out and made a statement in Alabama the other day and I said, I think it's very disrespectful to our country. And the world's picked it up.
And guess what?
Most people agree with me. And the NFL is in a box. They have to do something about it. They're disrespecting -- and when I say they, in a way, it is they, because they can stop it.
You know, they have rules for everything. You can't dance in the end zone. You can't wear the pink socks, relative to breast cancer, which is one of the places -- they have rules for everything.
Why aren't they honoring this country by enforcing a rule that's been in existence for a long time?
So the NFL and the players really have to do the honor of the country. It's for the honor of the country. They have to respect our country. They have to respect our flag and our anthem.
HEGSETH: What prompted that in Alabama? Why did you step out?
TRUMP: Well, I have so many friends that are owners. And they're in a box. I mean I've spoken to a couple of them. They say, we are in a situation where we have to do something.
I think they're afraid of their players, you want to know the truth. And I think it's disgraceful. And they've got to be tough and they've got to be smart, because you look at the ratings. The ratings are going way down. The stadiums are -- I've seen a couple of stadiums over the last few weeks. They are losing -- there are a lot of empty seats. I couldn't even believe it.
But when it comes to the respect of our nation, when it comes to the respect of our anthem and our flag, they have no choice. You have to have people stand with respect...
PETE HEGSETH, HOST: Mr. President, we're here in Indiana. You're going to launch your tax reform plan in front of this crowd.
Who is your tax plan intended to help?
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Really, the working people. We say the working people, middle class, the people that really haven't been treated right, Pete, and they haven't been treated right, really, for a long time, they have not been treated right. Also, it's going to be for businesses where they're going to employ jobs, where they're going to bring in jobs.
So it's for jobs. This is a tax plan for jobs and growth, growth for our country. It will be the largest reduction, in terms of dollars, of any plan ever in the history of the country. And it's going to be something very special.
But it's really for the middle income people and it's for the working people and it's for jobs.
HEGSETH: Are there any rates or brackets that are non-negotiable?
TRUMP: Yes, the 20 percent is non-negotiable. I wanted to do it at 15 percent. This is for business. I wanted to do it at 15 percent. If you look at China, China is at 15 percent. Other countries are at -- higher.
I mean right now, we're the highest taxed nation in the world. When I finish the plan, we'll be among the lower taxed, which is very good. I'd like to be the lowest, but you can't be the lowest. There are some that are ridiculous.
But I wanted to be at 15. In fact, I was going to start at 15 and maybe negotiate it up to 20. But the numbers really work at 20, so we're putting it in at 20, but we're not going to negotiate.
HEGSETH: Mr. President, the health care bill this week didn't -- went down in the Senate.
What about this plan makes you feel confident that it won't meet the same fate?
TRUMP: Well, Pete, the health care bill didn't go down. We have the votes, but reconciliation is a disaster. But as you know, it ends on Friday. So we don't have enough time, because we have one senator who's a "yes" vote, a great person, but he's in the hospital. And he's a "yes" vote. So we can't do it by Friday.
So we have the votes. We will do it some time at the beginning of the year, but prior to the election in November.
HEGSETH: Do you still have confidence in Mitch McConnell?
TRUMP: I do. I mean, look, I've dealt with Mitch for a long time. And I think he has to get rid of the filibuster rule. I think it's just a disaster for the Republican Party, because it means you need 60 votes on most pieces of legislation and you're not going to get it. There are 270 bills right now sitting before the Senate. You're not going to get them approved, because you're not going to get eight Democrats. And they want to keep this horrible filibuster rule, which says basically, you need 60. So that means you need eight Democrats to get something approved. And you're not going to get that. So they have to get rid of the filibuster rule. Otherwise, it's -- they're just making a mistake. But, no, I have confidence in -- look, I really like all of these people. I think they're terrific people. What I'm going to do, is we do have the votes for health care, but the filibuster, you know, if you look at what's going on with respect to timing, we have only until Friday for reconciliation, so we're going into next year. But in the meantime, I'm going to start negotiating with Democrats. And we'll see what happens.
HEGSETH: Do you feel like when you start negotiating with Democrats, do you feel like you can trust Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi?
TRUMP: It's not a question of trust. First of all, you know, I have a nice relationship with them. It's not really trust. It's if we can do a great health care bill, bipartisan, I'm OK with that. So we have...
HEGSETH: You've been discussing a new deal?
TRUMP: -- Pete, we have the votes to get it done. You can't do it when somebody is in the hospital. You know, when you have 52 votes and you need 51, it's, you know, it's very hard to get, because you always have somebody -- and in some cases, they want to grandstand. A lot of bad things happen. But we have the votes. But we don't have the time, because it's Friday. I mean literally Friday, it ends, at a certain time on Friday. So we'll bring it into a few months from now. We'll vote it. It's block grants. It's going to be great health care. in the meantime, I have that little period of time, I'll negotiate with the Democrats if we can come up with a for fantastic health care bill, that's OK with me. Good for both parties. Bipartisan.