President Donald Trump said Sunday that he has been very popular with NFL owners thanks to the criminal justice reform measures that he helped pass late last year.
The reforms are designed to reduce prison overcrowding and give judges latitude in sentencing non-violent criminals who have committed drug law violations, NBC has reported. The reforms cover offenders in the federal system, not state court systems.
Trump discussed the reforms on “Face the Nation,” where he was interviewed by Margaret Brennan. Brennan used the occasion of the interview’s air date on Super Bowl Sunday to ask Trump about the NFL and his relationship with Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Trump has scolded Goodell for not taking a hard line with players who protested during the playing of the national anthem.
“Have … you put your differences aside?” Brennan asked Trump.
“I think so. … I was just one that felt very important, you can’t be kneeling for the national anthem. You have to respect our flag and our country. I want that as president and I’d want that as a citizen,” he said, adding that Goodell thanked him for taking the NFL’s side in a dispute with Canada.
“I appreciated that. But they haven’t been kneeling and they have been respecting the flag and their ratings have been terrific ever since. And a lot of good things happened.”
When Brennan asked him about the allegations of NFL protests that “the majority of victims of police violence are black,” Trump noted that while the players talked, he acted.
“Well, you know, I’m the one that had passed judicial reform. And if you look at what I did, criminal judicial reform, and what I’ve done — President Obama tried. They all tried. Everybody wanted to do it. And I got it done and I’ve been, you know, really — a lot of people in the NFL have been calling and thanking me for it,” he said.
“They have been calling and thanking, you know, that people have been trying to get that taken care of and it’s now signed into law and affects tremendous numbers of people, and very good people. I think that when you want to protest I think that’s great. But I don’t think you do it at the sake of our flag, at the sake of our national anthem. Absolutely,” he said.
Brennan tried to probe Trump for whether he felt he was “sensitive” to “motivation for the protest.” Trump replied that there were calls for reform, and reform was achieved through legislation.
Brennan concluded her string of football-related questions by asking if Trump would allow his son, Barron, to play the sport.
“It’s a very good question. If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t,” Trump replied. “I hate to say it because I love to watch football. I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son — well I’ve heard NFL players saying they wouldn’t let their sons play football.”
During the interview, Trump also touched on the resignation of former Defense Secretary James Mattis.
“I wasn’t happy with his service. I told him give me a letter,” Trump said.
“I was not happy with the job he was doing in Afghanistan. And if you look at Syria what’s happened, I went to Iraq recently, if you look at Syria, what’s happened in Syria in the last few weeks, you would see that things are going down that were not going down. That things are happening that are very good. So I was not happy with him, but I wish him well.”
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