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Trump rejects criticism he's preoccupied with NFL

President Trump on Tuesday rejected criticism he is preoccupied with the National Football League (NFL) when his administration is facing a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. 
 
"I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL, I was ashamed with what's taking place," Trump said when asked about his recent criticism of athletes who protest during the national anthem.
 
Trump stressed his belief that the league should ban players from kneeling during the anthem, calling it “disgraceful.”
 
"I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem. To me, the NFL situation is a very important situation. I've heard that before about 'was I preoccupied,' not at all, not at all," he continued. "I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work. And to be honest with you that's an important part of working, it's called respect of our country."
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Trump made the comments during a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
 
Some critics say Trump’s focus on the NFL overshadowed his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria, which has left most of Puerto Rico without water and electricity. 
 
Trump said Tuesday he plans to travel to the U.S. island territory next week to survey the damage and receive an update on the disaster-relief efforts. He also defended his administration’s efforts to send food and supplies to Puerto Rico. 
 
“Frankly, it is the most difficult job. It is on an island in the middle of the ocean. You can't just drive your truck there from the other states,” he said. 
 
The president ignited his feud with the NFL during a rally Friday in Huntsville, Ala., where he called for owners to fire players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.
 
He has since doubled down on those comments, calling repeatedly for players to be fired, and for the NFL to create rules banning kneeling during the anthem.
 
Scores of professional athletes and sports executives have criticized the president's comments, arguing that the protests are an exercise of free speech.
 
Updated 3:00 p.m.