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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared to claim on CNN Sunday that NFL players don't have free speech rights while playing football.

“Players have the right to free speech off the field,” Mnuchin told CNN anchor Jake Tapper when asked about President Donald Trump's latest criticism of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest. “On the field, this is about respect,” he said.

The Trump administration official also said NFL players who peacefully protest for civil rights break league rules similar to when the “Dallas Cowboys wanted to put stickers on their helmets.”

“And now the NFL is saying players should be able to decide if they want to disrespect the United States flag,” Mnuchin added.

While the administration continues to defend the president's controversial comments calling for NFL teams to fire protesting players, members of his own party have started slamming Trump's for distracting away from important issues.

Republican adviser Karl Rove called Trump a “loser in the minds of the American people” after the president said, “get that son of a b***h off the field” regarding protesting NFL players.

“The president has two very valuable assets: his time and his voice. This president wastes it when he engages with things like this,” Rove added.

Trump doubled down on his comments over the weekend, seemingly urging fans to boycott the popular football league. “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

“NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.,” Trump added.

Watch the video below, via CNN.

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