President Trump’s dis-invitation of the Philadelphia Eagles to a celebratory White House reception continued to be debated even as the altered event took place on Tuesday.
The White House issued a statement explaining the series of events leading up to Trump’s decision and called out the NFL team which “decided to abandon their fans.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders explained that “on Thursday, May 31, the team notified the White House of 81 individuals, including players, coaches, management, and support personnel, who would attend the event. On Friday, the Secret Service cleared them for participation. These individuals, along with more than 1,000 Eagles fans, were scheduled to attend the event.”
“Late Friday, citing the fact that many players would not be in attendance, the team contacted the White House again, and attempted to reschedule the event,” she continued in the statement, The Daily Caller reported.
“The White House, despite sensing a lack of good faith, nonetheless attempted to work with the Eagles over the weekend to change the event format that could accommodate a smaller group of players,” Sanders continued. “Unfortunately, the Eagles offered to send only a tiny handful of representatives, while making clear that the great majority of players would not attend the event, despite planning to be in D.C. today. In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans.”
The president’s own statement on Monday had announced the cancellation citing the players who “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
Liberals slammed the president for making the customary White House visit by Super Bowl champions into a political stunt. CNN’s Don Lemon blasted Trump for “demanding forced patriotism just as autocrats have done for centuries.”
“This was absolutely a political stunt. A political stunt by the president,” Lemon declared in his monologue.
“Facts matter. So, here are the facts. Not one single Eagles’ player took a knee during the regular season. Not one. Not one single Eagles player stayed in the locker room during the anthem. Not one,” he continued.
“Who is being disrespectful here? Who is stomping all over the values we hold dear as Americans? The values, the freedoms that Americans have fought and died for,” Lemon went on. “You know who is doing that? It’s the person who’s lying to you about the Eagles’ players. The person whose lied to you well over 3,000 time in the past 501 days. The person who is demanding forced patriotism just as autocrats have done for centuries. That’s none other than Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States.”
But, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway backed the president and noted it is the NFL and not Trump at fault in the situation.
“The president could not be more clear on his position on the national anthem. He’s made a very simple request that he thinks people should stand for the flag,” Conway said on Fox News’ “Hannity” Tuesday.
“And before people yell and say, ‘Everybody did stand for the flag, nobody took a knee last year!’ that’s not what this particular incident was about,” she continued. “This was a decision the president made based on how this particular event was handled, not based on what happened last season. And may I remind everyone, it is the NFL, not the White House and not the president, who came out with a brand new policy that governs what its players will do.”
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