Politics

Steven Mnuchin says professional athletes ‘can do free speech on their own time’

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin holds a news conference on September 21, 2017 in New York City. The Treasury Secretary discussed increased sanctions against the regime of North Korea. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

SOMERSET, N.J. (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin thinks pro football players lose their right to free speech once they don pads and take the field.

Mnuchin said on ABC’s ‘‘This Week’’ they have ‘‘the right to have the First Amendment off the field.’’

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He’s defending President Donald Trump’s attacks on football players kneeling during the national anthem. Mnuchin says standing during the anthem shows respect for the military and first responders. He says: ‘‘They can do free speech on their own time.’’

Mnuchin argues ‘‘the president was trying to unify the country because the national anthem is about unification.’’

Trump said Friday that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem. A few players have refused to stand to protest police brutality and other issues.

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