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Ben Carson: Trump will 'get there' on understanding players kneeling to protest

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBen Carson says he's 'out of the woods' after being 'extremely sick' with COVID-19 Ben Carson says he used unproven COVID-19 treatment recommended by MyPillow CEO Chelsea Clinton blames Trump for Secret Service officers in quarantine MORE on Monday predicted that President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE will come around to understanding professional athletes who kneel in protest during the national anthem, even as he indicated as recently as last week he still opposed the gesture.

Carson spoke with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about systemic racism and protests amid the ongoing unrest in response to George Floyd's death. Carson, who is the lone black Cabinet member in the Trump administration, expressed optimism Trump would shift his view of athletes kneeling during the anthem.

"Well, I don’t think he has manifested as much animosity in that region lately," Carson said. "And I think we just continue to work him. He’ll get there."

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Carson argued that it's important for players who kneel during the anthem to educate the public on why they're doing it to make clear the protest isn't about the flag as Trump and others have claimed.

"I think most of them are kneeling because you know, they want to protest some brutality in the police forces. They need to make that very clear," he said. "And of course, now that that has been brought to national attention, I’m not sure if it needs to continue."

Trump has shown no indication that he will accept players protesting during the national anthem, even as the conversation around police brutality and racial injustice has shifted rapidly in recent weeks.

The president has for years condemned athletes who kneel during the national anthem to protest those same issues, calling for NFL owners to release players who protest. Earlier this month, he complained that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees should not have apologized for saying he did not support demonstrations that disrespected the flag.

"OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high," Trump tweeted on June 5. "We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!"

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a June 8 briefing that "the president is very much against kneeling in general."