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Jeff Sessions weighs in on NFL players protesting the national anthem

Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed with President Trump that it was unwise for NFL players to protest during the national anthem before games. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions weighed in Tuesday on the growing protests from NFL players during the national anthem, and President Donald Trump's controversial and explicit critique of those players.

"Well, the president has free speech rights, too," he said during a question-and-answer period at Georgetown University Law Center.

"He sends soldiers out every day to defend this country under the flag of the United States under the national anthem and the unity that those symbols call on us to adhere to," he added.

"So I agree that it is a big mistake to protest in that fashion," Sessions continued. "Because it weakens the commitment we have to this nation that has provided us this freedom.

"I would not that the players aren't subject to any prosecution but if they take a provocative act," he added, "they can expect to be condemned and the president has the right to condemn them, and I would condemn their actions, not them as a human being."

"But I don't think that was a good," he concluded, "there are many ways these players with all the assets they have, can express their political views other than, in effect, denigrating the symbols of our nation."

Here's the video of Sessions at Georgetown:

Sessions also addressed the issue later Tuesday with Tucker Carlson on his Fox News show.

"It's not political," said Sessions of standing for the national anthem, "it's not an affirmation of Trump or Hillary Clinton, or any other agenda. It's simply an affirmation of respect for the United States of America and this great heritage of freedom, and for these football players, prosperity that they have.

"So I think that's a perfectly appropriate thing for the president to say," he added. "They have a right, we have no legal case to condemn a person, a football player who doesn't stand. Their owners may have rights to deal with the employees on the football field. So I think they have all the rights every American has to speak out. They have access to the internet, they have all kinds of ways to express their own opinions."

Here's the video of Sessions with Tucker Carlson:

Sessions was addressing criticisms of the president for a statement he made on Friday decrying players for their protests, and using explicit language to do so. More athletes took a knee and protested in response on Sunday, including the first from a Major League Baseball player.

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