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President Trump pushed back on critics who accused him of being "preoccupied" with NFL players protesting the national anthem.

"I wasn't preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed of what was taking place," Trump said at a press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey at the White House on Tuesday.

"To me that was a very important moment. I don't think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem," the president continued.

Last Friday Trump highlighted the controversy over football players' refusal to stand for the anthem, a protest against police brutality and racism.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired,'" Trump said at a Friday rally in Alabama.

His comments sparked backlash from players across the country, and on Sunday entire teams knelt during "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The president on Tuesday reiterated his call for NFL officials to ban kneeling during the anthem.

"Many people have died. Many, many people. Many people are so horribly injured," Trump said. "They were fighting for our country. They were fighting for our flag. They were fighting for our national anthem."

The president mentioned his visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he met amputee veterans, among others.

"For people to disrespect that by kneeling during the playing of our national anthem I think is disgraceful," he concluded.

"I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work," he told reporters. "It doesn't take me long to put out a wrong, and maybe we'll get it right."

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