Hillary Clinton: I'm not sure Trump knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens

·Senior Writer

Hillary Clinton says it’s “deeply troubling” that President Trump has decided to lash out at National Football League players as Puerto Rico reels from Hurricane Maria.

“I’m not sure he knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” Clinton said during a live SiriusXM town hall event in New York City on Monday.

At a rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Friday, Trump picked his fight with the NFL, suggesting team owners should fire players who kneel during the anthem.

“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,’” Trump said.

The president then escalated the dispute, tweeting more than a dozen times about the protests.

“At the same time that he was doing all of that, we had American citizens in Puerto Rico who are in a desperate condition,” Clinton said.

Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm last week, killing at least 16 people. It left millions without power and virtually the entire island without cell phone communications.

Related slideshow: Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria >>>

Inhabitants stand in floodwater in Cataño, Puerto Rico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)
Inhabitants stand in floodwater in Cataño, Puerto Rico, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

“The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years,” Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress, said Sunday. “The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island’s greenery is gone.”

Hours after the storm made landfall, Trump tweeted a message of solidarity to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. But the president did not mention the storm-ravaged U.S. territory at all over the next four days, focusing instead on the protests.

On Monday, Trump insisted “the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race.”

“It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem,” he tweeted. “NFL must respect this!”

On Tuesday, Trump called for the NFL to ban kneeling.

“The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations,” he tweeted. “The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can’t kneel during our National Anthem!”

“I think it’s deeply troubling that the president would be attacking black athletes for expressing their opinions peacefully,” Clinton said. “Protest is a part of the American way of life, and it’s something that I’m very proud of — whether I agree or disagree. I think peaceful protest is part of what has helped us make progress, learn more, be a better country over time.

Related slideshow: Hurricane Maria barrels into the Caribbean >>>

“I just couldn’t help thinking that he has attacked these black athletes for peacefully protesting, but he doesn’t really attack white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klanners, or Vladimir Putin, who interfered in our election,” she added. “And I think it’s all part of his political calculation, and I really think that’s bad for the country. He wants to set people against each other. He wants to divide us.”

Trump told reporters on Tuesday morning that he will visit Puerto Rico next Tuesday, the earliest he is able to travel to the island due to the damage.

(Cover tile photo: Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Mike Theiler/Reuters, Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM/Getty Images, Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)


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