Trump welcomes Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House

The president hosted the Stanley Cup champions amid disputes with some NFL players about protesting during the national anthem.
6:28 | 10/10/17

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Transcript for Trump welcomes Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House
And they have president trump backed the White House welcoming the two time defending Stanley Cup champions. The Pittsburgh Penguins as they make a little victory for there to meet with the president hi everyone I'm mom and advise in New York couple look. Championship sports he has come to the White House all the time it's when he seventeen. Carries with it a whole different meaning I want to bring in my colleague Rick Klein ABC's political director down in Washington DC and Rick I'll be the first to say it. I was surprised that the president did not mention anything about the NFL or the protests or his involvement and that conversation. The closest he came on this right at the top reason I tell you everyone wanted to be here to me. That was a direct shot at at the NBA and the Golden State Warriors who of course. But their star players that curry said he wouldn't attend in the president said he would be disinvited. But I'll be to write on the maybe some restraint from the president he meandered into inviting the owner of the penguins a renegotiate NAFTA forum and joking about how he wants teams that looked like a little less goods in the Pittsburgh Penguins. But he didn't mention the the kneeling controversy. Even though he may have a little bit of a cause for victory lap of his own on that front because the NFL is announced. That it plans to discuss policy it would require players to stand so this extraordinary couple weeks was included the penguins except thing and now. Taking part in this invitation at the White House. Maybe it's a bit of an end point today with this is it and with that decision by the NFL. And Rick worth pointing out the president's involvement in the debate has meaty potentially moved some action on this we know. As you mentioned the NFL owners are going to be meeting anyway next week in New York we know now as result of reporting. That they're gonna considerable change requiring some of the players. To stand and we know Jerry killing the owner of the cowboys has come out pretty strongly against this to say that maybe he's gonna say the people who don't who don't stand during the anthem. Don't get to play in the games have been hurt the White House response to any of these. Yeah the White House I just just fell off a few moments ago so Huckabee Sanders the white house Press Secretary saying that they they would certainly welcome at the White House rule. That formalize this in the White House has also been complimentary the president itself of Jerry Jones and that decision. And I think look this has been an extraordinary couple weeks no one was talking about this issue this year on the people forget. That it was really last season Colin tempered ex sparked a national debate present Obama was still president. And this had nothing to do according to the people are involved in the protest with. A disrespecting veterans or the flag itself it was about police brutality in in incidents were minorities felt like they were unfairly targeted for Donald Trump became president. He sees this or the rumblings of the starting to happen again any new NFL season. Then he decides to speak out so he created this issue. He created this crisis moment for the NFL and now the the the White House is going to be in a position where they can claim credit for potentially a major policy change. That which teams the victim in nature of these protests at the beginning of games that we've become used a. Well he created it to some degree right by changing the conversation as you mention the protests were always about. Over policing in communities of color about police brutality a disproportionately affecting black Americans those statistics are. Absolutely true and we're not talking about that anymore but it did to greet the president can actually sway the conversation any take a look at what has happened. Over the last several weeks every time someone speaks up about this whether it's an owner or a player or sports anchor the president. I can and put them in their cross hairs you think it pat kind of a chilling effect of a people who don't go want to get involved in the conversation anymore lest they. Bring on the ire of the highest office in the land. I think it past him on and I think you he's gotten it's a tremendous amount of political mileage out of something that he just tossed into a speech. In Alabama of all all places on the eve of a senate election several weeks ago he is teased hatred debate is changed behaviors as part of this. A we know that his campaign arm has been fundraising actively on this we saw vice president pence. Travel to the it to his home seeded Indiana over the weekend to essentially lost at launch his own protest. Of the protesters in leaving early from that game. So that they've got a lot out of this but I think. In the position that puts the White House in that essentially standing up against the First Amendment is a unique one it's unique to this Aaron I think it does have to. I even by the people did you mean the admission of people involved in this closely maybe people look beyond president outside. The debate is different this debate over free speech has morphed into something that the original protesters never wanted to be. And Rick it's worth pointing out in the context of today's events the NHL it's certainly not really been on the forefront of these issues when it comes to the national and gunman kneeling are protesting. During additionally thirty black players in the league as opposed to the NFL where 70%. Of the players. Our African American but this is to be shore based on what you said what we've seen it is not going away anytime soon in terms of the president being willing to weigh. Yah Atlanta and that's a critical point I think it's important context given the racial dynamic all of this is that other Warren a lot of faces of color in that might also note. There were a whole lot of Americans in that room either leave the NHL is there is a very International League a lot of eastern European Russian Swedish. It Canadian players in in including some on on the penguins roster. But but I think yet that look it's every time people were received any invitation. Like this to the White House it's in pro forma in the past that something you do when you came to town economic play a Washington team you have your moment at the White House has worked under democratic. And Republican president's. It takes on a different meaning now. And I think the president going out of the way to to mention some of the other teams that have been there he likes basking in the glory not particularly a hockey fan but he did did okay. By my reckoning with the pronunciation in the terminology no major gaps around that. And it's going to be different any time this president. You extend that invitation because the nature of this president and this presidency are different. And because he is so willing to call people out for making. Political stands he is going to inject that bit of a combative tone and it's gonna be a decision that that every team faces for the duration of the trump presidency. What do you want to do when president trump calls. We'll have to see how that was for now no politics there today but of course we'll keep an eye on it Rick Klein down in Washington DC thanks fact that the topics on the thanks to all from you for watching it's well remember you can head over to abcnews.com. And any time for continuing average. Or download ABC news act in all this breaking news headlines right to your for now I'm on in the nods. The back here soon.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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