Interior secretary: One-third of employees ‘not loyal to the flag’
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Big-game hunters infuriated by Trump elephant trophy debacle Interior moves ahead with opening wildlife refuge next to contaminated nuclear site MORE reportedly said Monday that nearly a third of his department's employees are not "loyal to the flag" or President Trump. 

"I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” Zinke told the National Petroleum Council during a speech, according to The Associated Press

“We do have good people” Zinke added. “But the direction has to be clear and you’ve got to hold people accountable."

Trump and some of his allies have complained of an entrenched federal bureaucracy that they say has worked to stop — or at least slow — the president's agenda.

The Interior secretary's comments about the American flag came amid a feud between Trump and the NFL over the president's criticism of players who kneel in protest during the national anthem. 

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Trump sparked the controversy during a campaign rally in Alabama last Friday, saying that professional athletes who protest during the anthem should be fired. 

Many NFL teams responded by asserting players' right to free speech, and many players kneeled during the anthem during Sunday's games. Some teams, like the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers, refused to appear on the field for the anthem altogether. 

Some critics have claimed that the president's comments are racially motivated.

But Trump has stood by his criticism and sought to cast his rhetoric only as a defense of the U.S. and its flag. 

"The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race," he tweeted Monday. "It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!"