AG Sessions defends Trump’s criticism of NFL protests: ‘The president has free speech rights, too’
Zach Gibson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday defended the president’s recent criticism of NFL protests, telling an audience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., that the “president has free speech rights, too.”
He called the protests by NFL team owners and players a “big mistake,” adding that it will “weaken the commitment we have to this nation.”
Sessions’ speech, which focused on First Amendment rights, came amid President Trump’s rants against NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem, suggesting in a tweet Tuesday morning that the NFL should establish rules barring players from kneeling.
The attorney general, who was hosted by the Georgetown Center for the Constitution at Georgetown University Law Center, faced backlash even before his speech began.
A group of more than 30 Georgetown Law Center faculty members condemned the “hypocrisy” of his speech.
“We acknowledge our colleague’s right to invite Attorney General Sessions to speak on campus. However, we, the undersigned, condemn the hypocrisy, about Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking about free speech,” according to a statement from the group.
“Attorney General Sessions is a key cabinet member in an administration headed by a president who spent last weekend denouncing athletes engaged in free expression and calling for them to be fired. President Trump calls African-American professional football players kneeling in quiet protest ‘sons of bitches’ and angry, armed white supremacists ‘very fine people,'” the statement continued.
Before Sessions took the stage on Tuesday, Georgetown Law faculty and others knelt outside in protest of his speech.
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