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House GOP leader on flag burning: 'We’ll protect our First Amendment’

House GOP leader on flag burning: 'We’ll protect our First Amendment’
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says he disagrees with President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE’s call for severe penalties for flag burning.

“We have a First Amendment right,” he told host Willie Geist on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday. "We’ll protect our First Amendment. That’s what the court has upheld.”

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McCarthy, who endorsed Trump’s presidential bid, added that he agrees with Trump that flag burning is reprehensible.

“I don’t see why anybody would want to burn an American flag,” he said. "It’s the greatest symbol of freedom. In my neck of the woods, people don’t burn their flags. They actually honor their flags.

“[America is] a country that was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. I don’t see why someone would want to burn [its flag].”

Trump earlier Tuesday suggested harsh punishments for flag burning, mentioning loss of citizenship and a year in jail.

“Nobody should be allowed to burn an American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail,” he wrote in a morning tweet.

Trump did not specify what inspired his 7 a.m. post about flag burning, which has been ruled to be protected speech under the First Amendment.

A spokesman for Trump later on Tuesday agreed that flag burning should be outlawed.

“I think most Americans would agree with me that flag burning should be illegal,” Jason Miller said on CNN’s “New Day." "It’s completely despicable.”

Rep. Sean DuffySean Patrick DuffyGOP rep: We want DACA bill, but Dems want ‘an open border’ The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP rep: I have read ‘wide swaths’ of tax bill, not the whole thing MORE (R-Wis.), meanwhile, said he does not side with Trump on the controversial act.

“I don’t think we want to make this a legal issue, so I disagree with Mr. Trump on that, and the court is probably right,” he said on “New Day.” 

“I think the court is probably right that we want to protect those people who want to protest and their right to actually demonstrate with disgracing our flag, even though so many of us love our country and love our flag object to it."