A former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and retired four-star general blasted President Donald Trump in an op-ed Tuesday, claiming Trump took a peaceful protest that was “within the tolerance of normal American political discourse” and turned it into a moment for political gain with his base.
The former head of the CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden, is a lifelong Steelers fan and has never been happy with the San Francisco 49ers’ former quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests against police brutality, he said. But the President’s reaction to the whole protest was disappointing enough to make him say, “put me down with Kaepernick.”
“As a 39-year military veteran, I think I know something about the flag, the anthem, patriotism, and I think I know why we fight,” Hayden wrote in an op-ed in The Hill. “It’s not to allow the President to divide us by wrapping himself in the national banner.”
Trump exacerbated the rise in protests by calling any player who knelt during the national anthem at the start of football games a “son of a bitch” who should be fired.
The comments pushed players, owners and coaches across the country to make some type of statement on Sunday and Monday. The President has tweeted about the topic more than a dozen times and has made several public statements about the protests, saying those who take a knee are disrespecting the flag and the country.