GOP rep sneers: We must 'defend' America from 'employees' who exercise free speech


Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), while supporting Donald Trump's attacks against black NFL players, said that they are employees and thus don't deserve protection by the First Amendment.

A Republican congressman supported Donald Trump's ongoing campaign against black NFL players by asserting that as employees, they have given up their right to the First Amendment.

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) appeared on MSNBC to speak about the attacks from Trump and his demand that protesting players be fired. Trump's war of phony outrage has gone on more than two weeks now, and even led to Mike Pence staging an absurd "protest" stunt at a Colts game Sunday, which cost taxpayers $242,000.

Asked if the "dispute" in the NFL over athletes exercising their First Amendment right to protest "makes sense," Francis immediately praised Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for threatening to bench players who protest police brutality and said he is handling it "the right way." Asked whether he thinks other NFL owners should issue the same threats, Francis went even further, oddly claiming this was about defending America.

When MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle pointed out that free speech is also part of America, Francis sneered, "But these are employees. If there were my employees, they'd be gone by now."

FRANCIS: I think they should do what Jerry Jones did. I don't buy appeasement and hiding behind problems. I think you have to face the fact that this is America, it's our country, and we should be prepared to honor it and defend it.

RUHLE: Well, freedom of speech is part of our country.

FRANCIS: Oh sure, but these are employees. If there were my employees, they'd be gone by now.

The players have been making their silent and respectful protests in light of several high-profile cases of black Americans being killed by police officers, with little to no punishment for those actions.

Trump has been consumed with making the players shut up, praising those who have proposed boycotting the league, calling for tax laws to be changed to punish the league if they don't change, and hailing ESPN's decision to suspend a black reporter who has expressed sympathy for the players.

The episode is yet another instance of Trump — and his Republican allies — demonstrating where they stand on racial issues: with bigotry and against the First Amendment.