President Trump jokingly encouraged Democrat Hillary Clinton to run against him in 2020, saying Monday that she lost to him last year partly because “she wasn’t good at what she did.”
“Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run? I hope. Hillary, please run again!” Trump said during a freewheeling Rose Garden news conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Trump was asked about comments from the former Democratic presidential nominee defending the right of NFL players to kneel during the national anthem. “She's wrong,” he said.
“That's why she lost the election. Honestly, it's that thinking. That is the reason she lost the election,” he added.
Clinton said Sunday that Trump's attack on the NFL players is one of the “very clear dog-whistles” the president sends to his political base, Fox News reported. Most of the protesting players are black. Trump's core political supporters are overwhelmingly white.
“Actually, kneeling is a reverent position,” Clinton said during an appearance in London, where she was promoting her book about the 2016 campaign. “It was to demonstrate in a peaceful way against racism and injustice in our criminal system.”
Earlier Monday, Trump had returned to his mocking nickname for Clinton, writing in a morning Twitter message that he “was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, 'I hope so!'”
At the news conference, Trump said that anyone kneeling during the playing of the national anthem at sporting events is “sitting, essentially.”
“You're disrespecting our flag, and you're disrespecting our country,” he said.
The NFL should have suspended some players for one game as an initial punishment or a whole season for multiple instances of kneeling, Trump said.
“But if Hillary Clinton actually made the statement that a form of sitting down during the playing of our great national anthem is not disrespecting, then I fully understand why she didn't win,” Trump said.
“Look, there are a lot of reasons she didn't win, including that she wasn't good at what she did,” he said.
He added later, “I think that her statement in itself is very disrespectful.”
Trump also said he is not considering firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. The president reiterated that he hopes the investigation wraps up quickly.
“Well, I’d like to see it end. Look, the whole Russia thing was an excuse for the Democrats losing the election, and it turns out to be just one excuse,” Trump said.
“So, there has been absolutely no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, Trump said. “It's been stated that they have no collusion, and they ought to get to the end of it because, frankly, I think the American people are sick of it.”