WATCH: Steve Mnuchin Says Players Have a ‘Right to Free Speech Off the Field’


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Steve Mnuchin.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stood by President Donald Trump in his feud with the NFL over the league allowing players to protest by kneeling during the National Anthem. Mnuchin told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he wants to see the NFL put in a rule to make players stand and they can “have the right for free speech off the field.”

Mnuchin began by telling Tapper that the NFL has various rules already and the owners should meet and vote to add another one forcing players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“This is about respect for our military, this is about respect for our first responders. This is not about Republicans or Democrats. Players have the right for free speech off the field,” Mnuchin said. “On the field, this is about respect for lots of people and I don’t understand why there’s rules that when the Dallas Cowboys wanted to put stickers on their helmets out of respect for people there, they couldn’t do it. But now the NFL is saying people should be allowed to decide what they want to do and disrespect the United States flag.”

Mnuchin is referring to an incident last year, when the NFL refused to let the Cowboys wear a sticker supporting Dallas police officers. However, all three Florida teams and the Houston Texans were allowed to wear stickers to support relief for Hurricane Harvey and Irma victims. Mnuchin didn’t mention this.

Tapper reminded Mnuchin that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners have supported their players’ right to free speech, and then asked why this was a fight the president wanted to have.

“He thinks this is about respect for the military and so many people that put their lives at risk for what the country stands for,” Mnuchin said. “The owners should meet, and they should decide on this rule the same way they decide on any other rule.”