President Trump in an interview broadcast early Thursday pushed back on criticism that he has been distracted by his feud with NFL players.

"It is an important issue, it's not a distraction at all," Trump said on Fox News's "Fox and Friends," pointing to his administration's achievements since January. "There's been no distraction. But the NFL cannot disrespect our country."

Trump added that he was vindicated for his remarks during a campaign rally in Alabama last Friday when he called for NFL players who take a knee or otherwise protest during the national anthem to be dragged "off the field" by team owners.


"I saw this a year ago, with Kaepernick," Trump said. "And I said, 'this is a terrible thing.' I thought it was terrible."

"And I made a statement in Alabama the other day and I said 'I think it's very disrespectful to our country,' and the world picked it up," Trump explained. "And guess what? Most people agree with me."

Trump sparked controversy with his comments in Alabama and doubled down on them over the weekend as more than 200 NFL players protested during the national anthem. He was criticized for his focus on the uproar amid recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, which was battered by Hurricane Maria. 

Trump on Wednesday unveiled a sweeping tax-overhaul proposal that would slash business taxes and trim the number of individual tax rates.