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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump asserted Monday that his criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem "has nothing to do with race."

Rather, the president said the issue is "respect for our country, flag and national anthem."

Trump appeared to be responding to critics who say his slam of players who kneel in protest is about race.

The president sparked the controversy at a rally Friday night when he declared that football 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 b---- off the field right now, out,'" the president said. in Huntsville, Alabama, before a largely white crowd.

The president's comments spurred a strong reaction by NFL players and owners, with many players kneeling or locking arms during the "Star-Spangled Banner" on Sunday as a rebuke to him.

Kneeling during the anthem was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 preseason, a practice he said was to protest against the treatment of blacks in the United States. Kaepernick is black.

The president on Monday continued hammering his argument that kneeling during the national anthem is unpatriotic.

"It is about respect for our country, flag and national anthem," he tweeted. "NFL must respect this!"

The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017

He also returned to his claim that NFL fans don't support the player protests.

Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017

Trump also sought to contrast the NFL with NASCAR, whose fans he said wouldn't "put up with disrespecting our country or our flag,"

So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag - they said it loud and clear!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017

But one of NASCAR's biggest stars staked out a different position that Trump. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted Monday morning that all Americans have a right to protest peacefully.

All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK

— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017


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Ethan Miller/Getty Images (NEW YORK) -- A vast 86 percent of Americans support a right to residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, with support crossing the political spectrum. Two-thirds back a deal to enact such legislation in tandem with higher funding for border control.

See PDF with full results here
.

Possibly in light of President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, disapproval of his handling of immigration overall reaches 62 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll. Just 35 percent approve.

Additional hurdles for Trump are his demand for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico -- again 62 percent oppose it -- and substantial concerns about his immigration enforcement policies.

Americans were asked whether they support “a program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States if they arrived here as a child, completed high school or military service and have not been convicted of a serious crime,” all elements of DACA, established by Barack Obama by executive order in 2012. Support spans demographic groups, including three-quarters of Republicans and conservatives, 86 and 87 percent of independents and moderates, and 97 and 96 percent of Democrats and liberals.

Support reaches 94 percent among Hispanics, 93 percent among blacks and 84 percent among whites. Strong support, 87 percent among Hispanics and 85 percent among blacks, declines among whites to 61 percent.

Trump early this month said he would rescind DACA, giving Congress a six-month window to act before nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants lose protection from deportation. He later reached a tentative agreement with top congressional Democrats for DACA legislation accompanied by upgraded border security.

As noted, 65 percent support that potential compromise -- a bipartisan result, with 76 percent support among Republicans, 66 percent among independents and 59 percent among Democrats. Similarly, 71 percent of moderates, 66 percent of conservatives and 56 percent of liberals back the deal. Just 27 percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, are opposed.

Enforcement

Just 30 percent of Americans say Trump has immigration enforcement “about right,” compared with the 44 percent who say this was so before he took office. Nearly half (45 percent) say immigration enforcement under Trump is “too tough,” much higher than the 6 percent who say this was the case before he took office. That said, 49 percent say enforcement was “not tough enough” before Trump took office; just 22 percent say so now.

Matching the number who disapprove of Trump’s handling of immigration overall, 62 percent oppose his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border; this has held steady since Trump first proposed it. Fifty-five percent also oppose cutting legal immigration by half, another proposal backed by Trump. In contrast, 79 percent support requiring employers to verify that new hires are here legally – a current requirement, with stricter enforcement on the table.

In a general measure of suspicion, just 12 percent of Americans think undocumented immigrants commit more violent crimes than other people in the country. The vast majority instead say they commit violent crimes at either an equal or lesser rate than U.S. citizens (64 percent and 19 percent, respectively). Approval of Trump’s handling of immigration is stronger among those who think undocumented immigrants commit more violent crimes than U.S. citizens (78 percent); it drops to 33 percent among those who think crime rates are the same, and 12 percent among those who think they’re lower among undocumented immigrants.

Groups

Views on Trump’s handling of immigration are highly partisan. Three-quarters of Republicans and 61 percent of conservatives approve, vs. a third of independents and moderates, 10 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of liberals.

Differences also emerge by demographic groups. Forty-three percent of men approve, vs. 28 percent of women. Americans over age 40 are more apt than younger adults to approve, 42 vs. 24 percent among those younger than 40. And while 46 percent of whites approve, this drops to 13 percent among both blacks and Hispanics alike.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 18-21, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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Zach Gibson - Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has used a private email account to communicate with White House staffers, his attorney confirmed to ABC News.

"Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business. Fewer than a hundred emails from January through August were either sent to or returned by Mr. Kushner to colleagues in the White House from his personal email account," Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell said in a statement.

Lowell said the emails were "usually forwarded news articles or political commentary" and "most often occurred" when someone "initiated the exchange by sending an email to his personal" account.

The news of Kushner's personal email account was first reported by Politico.

The statement makes no mention of classified information, but does say that copies of the emails were sent to his official account for recording.

"All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address and all have been preserved in any event," Lowell said.

A White House official conducting business on a personal email account is not unprecedented.

During the campaign and even as president, Trump eviscerated his opponent Hillary Clinton for handling classified information on a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to defend his controversial use of military jets for domestic business travel and challenged ABC News' reporting that it costs $25,000 an hour to operate the aircraft by suggesting the network check those figures with the Pentagon.

Pentagon documents show it costs $25,000 per hour to operate the Air Force's C-37 jet -- the same jet that flew Mnuchin from New York City to Washington D.C. on August 15.

"You can check with the Pentagon, because that's not what they charge," Mnuchin told This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz. "But it costs a lot of money," he added.

According to Mnuchin's spokesman, it appears the secretary was referencing the reimbursement rate the Pentagon charges outside agencies to fly on its aircraft -- which is about $10,000 an hour.

While that figure is also accurate, it doesn't change the fact that it costs the Air Force -- and therefore the American taxpayer -- $25,000 an hour to operate the aircraft.

See DoD's hourly cost to OPERATE one of these C-37 (Gulfstream equivalent) military jets vs. the reimbursement rate @stevenmnuchin1: pic.twitter.com/7mG4B1zL9h

— Justin Fishel (@JustinFishelABC) September 24, 2017

However, Mnuchin said in his interview that cost is "not the point," adding that he needed to fly on a military jet in order to make a secure phone call.

"I had a secure call that day that was critical, and set up, and needed to be done at that time," Mnuchin said. "And that's why I used the plane."

Mnuchin's travel habits -- including a business flight to Kentucky during the solar eclipse and a request for a military jet to take him and his wife on their European honeymoon, are under review by the Treasury Department's inspector general. Mnuchin says he welcomes the review and denies any wrongdoing.

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Leigh Vogel/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Sunday that it would "very difficult" to envision herself voting for the Graham-Cassidy bill, which appears to put the Republicans' latest effort to repeal Obamacare in jeopardy.

"It's very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill," Collins said in an interview with reporters. "I have a number of serious reservations about it."

Collins said she wants to wait for the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill before she makes a final decision.

Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona have already publicly come out against the GOP health care bill.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he does not yet support the bill, which appears to put the Republicans' latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy.

"Right now, they don't have my vote," Cruz said during an interview at TribFest at the University of Texas in Austin on Sunday.

"And I don't think they have Mike Lee's either," Cruz said of the Republican senator from Utah.

Cruz said he wants to be a "yes" vote on Republicans' latest push to repeal Obamacare, the health care law he called a "disaster."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended his use of a costly government jet to make the short journey from New York City to Washington D.C. following an August meeting in Trump Tower.

When asked about the travel by co-anchor Martha Raddatz on ABC News’ This Week, Mnuchin responded that it was necessary for national security purposes.

“There are times when I need secure communications to be in touch with the president and National Security Council,” Mnuchin said. “I had a secure call that day that was critical and set up. It needed to be done at that time, and that’s why I used it.”

Mnuchin also confirmed that his use of the private jet on Aug. 15 is now under review, as are at least two other requests for government travel involving the secretary.

“The inspector general is reviewing my travel,” Mnuchin said. “If there’s suggestions, we’ll follow it.”

ABC News previously reported on Mnuchin's August trip on a U.S. Air Force C-37 jet, which took less than an hour. Mnuchin was in New York to attend the now-infamous press conference in Trump Tower during which the president made highly controversial remarks on the violence in Charlottesville. Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who also flew on that government jet, flanked the president during his remarks.

The Treasury Department's review of Mnuchin's travel habits was triggered after ethical questions were raised about a military jet that he and his wife, Louise Linton, used to travel to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky, in August. It was speculated that they may have used that taxpayer-funded trip to catch a prime view of the solar eclipse.

Investigators are also examining why Mnuchin, an independently wealthy former banker at Goldman Sachs, requested a government jet to take the couple on their European honeymoon in early August. Mnuchin has strongly denied that he used the Kentucky trip to view the eclipse, and a spokesman for the Treasury Department said the honeymoon request was made so he could communicate securely with Washington. They added that the honeymoon request was later withdrawn.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC News on Sunday that President Trump is ready to defend the United States from North Korean nuclear threats, both economically and militarily.

“The president has said all the options are on the table. The president has lots of alternatives that have been presented to him, and he will make decisions at the time,” Mnuchin told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on This Week.

Trump signed an executive order last week that expands economic sanctions on North Korea, limiting the isolated totalitarian state’s trade with other countries.

Mnuchin called the sanctions “the most strong sanctions that have ever been done,” but said they are only one form of action.

“Military is one form, economics is another form -- and the president will pursue all the options,” Mnuchin said.

During a four-day visit to the United Nations General Assembly last week, Trump said the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. In response, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said leader Kim Jong Un is considering testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

Mnuchin called the threat of that potentially devastating test “unbelievable.”

“This is about someone who’s testing nuclear weapons, a hydrogen bomb that is dramatically bigger than any bomb that has been used,” Mnuchin said. “This is about sending ballistic missiles across Japan’s airspace. These things are not going to continue to be allowed, and the president has made that very clear.”

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended President Trump's comments calling for NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to be fired, saying players "have the right to have the First Amendment off the field."

“This isn’t about Democrats. It's not about Republicans. It's not about race. It’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time," the treasury secretary said in an interview with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on This Week Sunday. "This is about respect for the military and first responders and the country."

"They have the right to have the First Amendment off the field," he added.

Mnuchin said NFL team owners and league administrators should create and enforce rules to have players stand for the anthem.

“The NFL has all different types of rules. You can’t have stickers on your helmet; you have to have your jersey tucked in,” Mnuchin said. “I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem.”

Mnuchin also accused the NFL of "picking and choosing" rules they want to enforce.

"This is a job. And the employers have the right, when the players are working, to have rules. So, you know, why didn't they wear stickers? Why didn't the Dallas Cowboys -- why were they allowed to wear stickers in response to people they wanted to pay respect to? " Mnuchin said. "So the NFL is picking and choosing what they want to enforce."


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., directly addressed fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky over his opposition to the latest bill aiming to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying the new legislation would "save a lot of money."

"Rand Paul objects to the taxes, but when you look at the bill, Rand, we save a lot of money over time for Medicaid," Graham said in an interview with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on This Week Sunday. “We've put a cap on Obamacare growth to make it more sustainable, more affordable, more flexible.”

Graham and fellow Republican Sen. Cassidy of Louisiana both appeared on the show to talk about their legislation, the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

Despite the announced opposition of Paul and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona -- as well as all Senate Democrats -- Graham said he is optimistic that Republicans will be able to pass the bill.

"We're moving forward, and we'll see what happens next week. I'm very excited about it. We finally found an alternative to Obamacare that makes sense," Graham said.

“I think we're going to get the votes next week,” Graham added. “And the fight goes on. It is a fight worth having.”

McCain announced his opposition to the legislation in a statement Friday, saying he cannot in “good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy” bill.


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump faces deep challenges on international and domestic issues alike, with a job approval rating mired in historic lows, a broad sense he’s done more to divide than unite the country, and a high level of public distrust that he’ll act responsibly in dealing with North Korea.

See PDF with full results here.

Views on North Korea underscore trepidations about Trump on the global stage. Even as a record number of Americans see North Korea as a threat, the public by a wide 62-37 percent does not trust Trump to act responsibly in handling the situation. Compare that with trust in U.S. military leaders; at 72 percent, it’s about double the level of trust in their commander-in-chief.

But Trump faces equal difficulties at home. His approval rating is the lowest of any president at eight months in office in polling back 71 years. The public by 66-28 percent says he’s done more to divide than to unite the country, considerably worse than the highest “divide” scores for his two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, both 55 percent. And despite his “drain the swamp” promise, Americans by 59-39 percent say Trump has not brought needed change to Washington, 6 percentage points more than Obama’s worst rating on this gauge, which came after nearly two years in office.

Approval ratings

Eight months in, 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance in office overall, while 57 percent disapprove. Both precisely match his average ratings in four ABC News/Washington Post polls since he took office. His approval rating remains the lowest for any president at this point in polls dating back to Harry S. Truman’s presidency.

Strong critics of Trump, moreover, far outnumber strong supporters, by 48 percent vs. 26 percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. That 22-point gap is the same as Obama’s career worst. But the average edge in negative intensity throughout Obama’s two terms was just 6 points. It’s averaged 21 points to date for Trump.

There is differentiation in Trump’s approval ratings on individual issues. On immigration, just 35 percent approve, and 62 percent disapprove. On the economy, his approval advances to 43 percent, with 49 percent disapproving. And his ratings turn positive when it comes to handling the recent hurricanes that struck the United States -- 56 percent approve, 31 percent do not.

Hurricane response ratings are a notable bright spot not just for Trump, but also for the federal government more broadly. It gets a 70-24 percent positive rating for its hurricane response, a result that suggests lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. About two weeks after Katrina hit, just 38 percent of Americans approved of the federal response, and 62 percent disapproved.

That said, positive views of the federal response were somewhat higher, 78 percent -- among likely voters -- immediately after superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012. And negative views are 19 points higher now than after Sandy, with fewer unsure.

Regardless, the hurricane response ratings are a clear positive for Trump and the government. So is response to the Trump/Democratic agreement to fund disaster relief while also raising the limit on the national debt. Sixty-five percent support it, on an unusually bipartisan level -- 77 percent of Republicans, 67 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents.

North Korea

A record 84 percent of Americans now see North Korea as a threat to the United States, and 70 percent see it as a serious threat; both have been high, but not quite this high, in four ABC/Post polls since 2003. While Trump is seen as a wild card -- as noted, 62 percent don’t trust him to handle it responsibly -- that’s even more so for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Eighty-nine percent don’t trust him on the issue.

Tougher sanctions are by far the preferred approach in dealing with the situation, with 76 percent supporting it. Backing for other responses falls below half: Forty-three percent for discontinuing joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, 39 percent for air strikes on North Korean military targets and 32 percent for offering North Korea financial incentives.

Showing a hardening of attitudes, support for offering North Korea aid or trade incentives to give up its nuclear weapons has fallen sharply since tensions last were this high in 2005, from 51 percent then to 32 percent now. Concurrently, support for a U.S. strike on North Korean military targets has grown sharply, about doubling from 20 percent in 2005.

Still, however, 67 percent say any U.S. strike should be retaliatory only, while just 23 percent favor a pre-emptive attack. A central reason is that 82 percent think a U.S. first strike could risk starting a larger war in East Asia; 69 percent see this as a major risk.

Compared with 12 years ago, the rise in support for air strikes is broadly based, excluding younger adults under 40 and liberals. It’s up 34 points among Republicans and 21 to 27 points among conservatives, adults age 40 and older and political moderates. Declines in support for aid or trade incentives, while again broadly based, are largest among Republicans, conservatives and whites -- down 29, 26 and 25 points, respectively.

Trump

There are wide if now-customary gaps in Trump’s ratings -- and not only political and ideological ones. His overall approval rating is 16 points higher among men (47 percent) than women (31 percent) and among Americans age 40 and older (45 percent) vs. those younger than 40 (29 percent). There also are sharp differences moving from rural to suburban to urban residents (54-41-28 percent approval).

He has 42 percent approval among those who aren’t college graduates vs. 29 percent among those with postgraduate degrees. Among the largest divisions, 49 percent of whites approve vs. 19 percent of nonwhites. And within the white population, Trump’s approval rating ranges from 66 percent among non-college white men to 31 percent among college-educated white women, key voting groups in the election that brought Trump to power.

Trump’s 77 percent disapproval among nonwhites matches its previous high in April, and the number who disapprove strongly, 65 percent, is a new high. He’s at a new low among conservatives -- albeit one of his best groups -- at 65 percent approval. His approval rating from liberals -- a mere 9 percent -- matches its low, while he’s gained ground among moderates, to 36 percent approval now vs. 27 and 28 percent in two midsummer polls.

Notably, Trump does less well, even in his higher-support groups, on the question of whether he’s done more to unite or to divide the country. Sixty-one percent of men say he’s done more to divide the country, as do 58 percent of older Americans -- 50 and up, in this case; 62 percent of those without a college degree, nearly half of the rural population; 64 percent of suburbanites; and 55 percent of whites, as well as four in 10 conservatives and three in 10 in his own party.

Methodology


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 18-21, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-36 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) --  President Donald Trump continued to escalate threats to North Korea late Saturday as he responded to their foreign minister with a warning "they won't be around much longer" if the country continues provocation.

Trump took to Twitter just after 11 p.m. to respond to statements made earlier Saturday by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who said bombing the U.S. mainland was "inevitable."

Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

Ri is currently in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and spoke on Saturday in a much-anticipated rebuttal to Trump's message delivered on Tuesday in which he said the U.S. would "totally destroy" North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.

"Due to his lacking of basic common knowledge and proper sentiment, he tried to insult the supreme dignity of my country by referring it to as a rocket," Ri said, referring to Trump's new penchant for referring to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man." "By doing so, however, he committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets' visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more."

Kim and Trump have spent the better part of the last few months hurling insults back and forth at each other. Trump tweeted early Friday morning that Kim was "obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people."

Ri referred to the president as "a mentally deranged person full of megalomania and complacency" in Saturday's address.

The war of words has continued to escalate as North Korea advances its development of a nuclear weapon. The country has fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean in the past month. They also conducted a nuclear test on Sept. 3, with U.S. officials saying the country exploded a hydrogen bomb at an underground facility.

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Cleveland Cavaliers star Lebron James lashed out at President Trump on Saturday on social media after the president said he was withdrawing his invitation to the Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry to visit the White House.

James, in his tweet, referred to Trump's comment that visiting the White House is "a great honor."

"Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up," Lebron wrote.

U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!

— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017

The three-time NBA champion later posted a two-minute video on Uninterrupted.com, a media outlet dedicated to giving athletes a platform to speak their minds, in which he criticized Trump, saying he "has tried to divide us once again."

"He’s now using sports as the platform to try to divide us," James said. "For him to try to use this platform to divide us even more is not something I can stand for and is not something I can be quiet about."

James finished the monologue by encouraging "us to all come together. It’s not about a division. It's not about dividing. We as American people need to come together even stronger."

The president's earlier tweet apparently was in response to Curry's disclosure that he didn't want to go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

No formal White House invite had been made to the Warriors but championship teams often make such a visit. The Warriors, winner of the 2017 NBA championship, have been in discussions with the White House about whether to visit, ESPN reported.

"I don't want to go," Curry told the press Friday. "My beliefs stay the same."

Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Curry, the Warrior's star shooter, has said it was important for the team "to understand the magnitude" of its decision of whether to visit the White House.

"Just like our country, every opinion counts and matters," Curry said, according to ESPN.

"Based on the conversations we've had in the past and what people have said to the media, to each other, I know pretty much where everybody kind of stands on it," he said. "But we want to respect the opportunity to represent not only ourselves, our own beliefs, but our organization because we're obviously in this position because we won a championship and we did something special together. So for us to just really take the time to understand the magnitude of this decision and the right thing to do, the right way to go about it is important."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday that he expects the team to meet in coming days to decide whether to go. But after Trump's tweet, the team posted a statement to Twitter on Saturday afternoon, saying, "We accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited."

"While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited. We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We're disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise," the Warriors said in the statement.

Statement from the Golden State Warriors: pic.twitter.com/6kk6ofdu9X

— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) September 23, 2017

It added, "In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we'll constructively use our trip to the nation's capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion -- the values that we embrace as an organization."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday evening he was "disappointed" the NBA champs wouldn't be going to the White House, which he said was "a rare opportunity for these players to share their views directly with the President."

"More importantly, I am proud of our players for taking an active role in their communities and continuing to speak out on critically important issues," he added.

The NBA Players Association also supported the Warriors' decision.

"The National Basketball Players Association defends its members' exercise of their free speech rights against those who would seek to stifle them. The celebration of free expression - not condemnation - is what truly makes America great," the union said in a statement.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump slammed Arizona Sen. John McCain at a rally on Friday night after the senator said he would not be voting in favor of the Republicans' new bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump called McCain's opposition to the Cassidy-Graham bill "terrible, honestly terrible" at a rally for Alabama Sen. Luther Strange.

The president followed up on the criticism via Twitter on Saturday morning.

John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Arizona had a 116% increase in ObamaCare premiums last year, with deductibles very high. Chuck Schumer sold John McCain a bill of goods. Sad

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Large Block Grants to States is a good thing to do. Better control & management. Great for Arizona. McCain let his best friend L.G. down!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Trump said he was still holding out hope that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would change his vote. He even managed to level a shot at McCain as he lauded Paul's chances of flipping to "yes."

"Wouldn't it be ironic if he took John McCain's place?" Trump said. "And they definitely do not like each other."

McCain had said earlier in the day that he could not "in good conscience" vote for the bill.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together -- Republicans and Democrats -- and have not yet really tried," he said in a statement.

"Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums and how many people will be helped or hurt by it."

The success of the bill, pushed by Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rests on the decisions of fellow Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. Both voted against the last effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was sunk when McCain decided in the eleventh hour to vote "no."


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Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) -- Despite delivering a meandering, hour-and-a-half-long speech that touched on the NFL, Kim Jong Un and his wife's stilettos, President Donald Trump drove home the message he intended to bring to Alabama: Sen. Luther Strange is his choice in Tuesday’s runoff election.

But the president also made clear he’s aware of the stakes for himself in this race, which pits the establishment-backed Strange against Judge Roy Moore, an outspoken conservative who’s leading in most polls and has garnered the support of former Trump officials like Steve Bannon.

"I might have made a mistake, I’ll be honest," Trump said, fully aware of how the race has drawn national attention as a proxy war between the political influence of the Trump and Bannon camps.

"If Luther doesn't win, they're not going to say we picked up 25 points in a very short period of time. They're going to say, 'Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was unable to pull his candidate across the line. It is a terrible, terrible moment for Trump. This is total embarrassment.'"

But Trump insisted that despite what he said was his political peril in getting involved, he chose to endorse and campaign for Strange because the senator is committed to pursuing the president’s agenda. Trump singled out his request for support on the Senate’s first attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare and Strange not asking for anything in return.

"I said, 'Senator, I need your help. I gotta get your vote on health care.' He said, 'You got it,'" Trump said, sounding as if he was still amazed at how easy it was to whip Strange.

"I went home and told my wife, 'That’s the coolest thing that’s happened to me in six months!'" he exclaimed.

The president also told the crowd at the packed Von Braun Center, which seats 10,000, that Strange was not, as his political detractors have tried to cast him, a creature of the so-called "swamp" that Trump wants to drain. He rejected the notion that Strange has any relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite the fact that a McConnell-backed outside group has poured millions of dollars into Strange's campaign.

"He's not a friend of Mitch McConnell. He doesn't know Mitch McConnell," Trump said.

Despite Trump's embrace of Strange, the president also said he told the candidate that if he does lose Tuesday’s runoff, he will “be here campaigning like hell for [Moore].”

Several rally-goers seemed fine with that notion. Many were outright Moore supporters, and had simply come to the event to see Trump, whom they largely still support enthusiastically.

Others said they were voting for Strange simply because Trump endorsed him, and that if Trump ended up campaigning for Moore, should he win the runoff, they too would vote for him.

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Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) -- President Donald Trump slammed the NFL this evening for what he called the league's tolerance of players showing disrespect to the U.S.

Speaking to a crowd in Huntsville, Alabama, where Trump is campaigning for Luther Strange ahead of the Senate runoff for the Republican primary, Trump insisted the NFL take a stronger stance.

"Someone is going to say, 'That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,'" Trump said.

"Wouldn’t you love one of the NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now?'" he continued to thunderous applause and cheers.

Trump went on to encourage people to "leave the stadium to protest people doing things like kneeling during the national anthem. "I guarantee these things will stop," he said.

Trump fires back at North Korea

Trump also took aim at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Friday evening, saying "Little Rocket Man" should have been handled a long time ago and vowing he would shield Americans from Kim.

"You are protected. Nobody is going to mess with our people. … Nobody is going to put our people in that kind of danger. Nobody," Trump said.

In a statement Thursday, Kim said Trump will "pay dearly" for his address to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this week, in which Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea.

"I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire," Kim said.

Trump told the crowd in Huntsville that he will "handle" Kim unlike previous administrations before him.

"He may be smart, he may be strategic and he may be totally crazy. But no matter what he is … believe me we’re going to handle it," Trump said Friday.

The comments followed an early morning tweet from Trump, in which he called the North Korean leader a "madman" and said he "would be tested like never before."

McCain opposition to GOP health care bill 'unexpected,' Trump says

During the Friday remarks, Trump, who at times seemed to take on a Southern accent, also expressed his displeasure with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said earlier today he would not support the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

"That was a totally unexpected thing," Trump said. "Honestly, terrible."

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