Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says NFL players only have free speech rights "off the field."
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defended Donald Trump’s recent attacks on free speech with his own galling sentiment.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Mnuchin declared that NFL players only “have a right to free speech off the field.”
The comments come after Trump repeatedly lashed out at athletes — particularly black athletes — who have chosen to kneel, rather than remain standing, during the national anthem. The peaceful demonstration is done as an act protest against racial injustice.
When asked about Trump’s unprecedented attacks on the First Amendment rights of private citizens, Mnuchin suggested that the NFL should make a new set of rules restricting the free speech rights of football players while they’re on the field.
The First Amendment, Mnuchin said, only applies to these American citizens when they’re off the field.
MNUCHIN: The NFL has all different types of rules: you can’t have stickers on your helmet, you have to have your uniforms tucked in. What the president is saying — and I think the owners should meet and they should vote on a rule — 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. 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 helmet out of respect for people there, they couldn’t do it, but now the NFL is saying people should be able to decide what they want to do and disrespect the United States flag.
Mnuchin’s attempt to limit free speech for private citizens is just the latest in a series of alarming attacks on the First Amendment by the Trump White House. Less than two weeks ago, Trump called for ESPN host Jemele Hill to be fired for criticizing him.
It seems that the Trump administration only believes in free speech when it is speech with which they agree.