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Trump: Stand for the anthem or ‘maybe you shouldn’t be in the country’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing the Section 232 Proclamations on Steel and Aluminum Imports during a ceremony at the White House Thursday, March 8, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Donald Trump praised the NFL’s decision to fine teams whose players kneel in protest during the national anthem, then took his criticism of protesters one step further in a new interview on Fox News.

“You have to stand, proudly, for the national anthem,” Trump said. “Otherwise you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

The interview was recorded Wednesday and broadcast Thursday morning on “Fox & Friends,” a favorite program of the president’s.

Players began kneeling in 2016 to protest excessive force by police against African Americans. Under the new rules, which are widely considered NFL owners’ response to the pressure Trump has brought to the issue, players can choose to remain in the locker room rather than take the field for the anthem.

Trump said he didn’t like that option but “the NFL owners did the right thing.”

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© 2018 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.