Sessions defends Trump's NFL attacks: 'The president has free speech rights too'

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump vows to get rid of 'stench' at DOJ, FBI NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions House Judiciary on NY Times article: I intend to subpoena 'McCabe Memos' MORE on Tuesday defended President Trump’s attacks on professional athletes who take a knee in protest during the national anthem at sporting events.

"The president has free speech rights, too," Sessions said during remarks on free speech on college campuses at Georgetown University Law Center. "He sends soldiers out every day to defend this country under the flag of the United States, under the national anthem and the unity those symbols call on us to adhere to, so I agree it is a big mistake to protest in that fashion."

Sessions said these types of protest "weaken the commitment we have to this nation that has provided us this freedom."

ADVERTISEMENT

"The players aren't subject to any prosecution, but if they take a provocative act they can be expect to be condemned and the president has the right to condemn them," he said. 

At a campaign rally on Friday, Trump said these athletes should be fired and urged fans to leave the games. 

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,'" Trump said. 

The remarks appeared to be an intentional slight against quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee last year during the national anthem to protest the killings of unarmed black people by police.  

Sessions, however, said Tuesday that he would condemn the action, not the human being. 

"There are many ways these players, with all the assets they have, can express their political views other than, in effect, denigrating the symbols of our nation, a nation that's provided our freedom to speak and act," he said.