From Dissing War Heroes to Praising Putin: 9 Times Trump Didn't Practice the Patriotism He's Preaching to the NFL

During a Sept. 22 speech in Huntsville, Alabama, and in a subsequent, days-long tweetstorm, President Donald Trump encouraged NFL owners to fire the players who kneel in protest during the National Anthem — like Colin Kaepernick, who drew worldwide attention when he became the first player to do so in August 2016. The president has called the protests a display of "total disrespect" for the country. But Trump himself is far from a perfect patriot. Here are nine instances where he's been caught under fire

01 of 09

WHEN HE HAD TO BE REMINDED TO PUT HIS HAND OVER HIS HEART FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM

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That image of Trump at a Republican presidential debate, standing with his arms at his sides while his fellow candidates Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have theirs over their hearts is doctored, Snopes.com reported. But Trump has neglected to put his hand over his heart during a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before. At the 2017 White House Easter Egg Roll in April, he needed a nudge from his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, after the song had started before he remembered to place his right hand over his heart.

02 of 09

WHEN HE INSULTED THE GOLD STAR KHAN FAMILY

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On stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan, whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 in Iraq, slammed Trump for his proposed Muslim ban, saying the president has never sacrificed anything for his country. “Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America,” Khan said, speaking to Trump. “You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.” Khizr's wife, Ghazala Khan, stood next to her husband onstage but didn't address the crowd.

In an interview with George Stephanopolous, Trump reacted to the speech and implied that Ghazala didn't speak at the convention because she wasn't "allowed" to. “If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” he said. “She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say.”

The interview was met with online backlash, and Trump then tweeted: “I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!” He also accused Khizr of "viciously attacking" him in a second tweet.

But it was the president who faced the fury of social media after his attack on the Gold Star family.

03 of 09

WHEN HE DEFENDED RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN

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In an interview with former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on Super Bowl Sunday, Trump defended Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying, “I do respect him. I respect a lot of people."

When O'Reilly pressed Trump, calling Putin a "killer," the president continued his defense. “Well, take a look at what we’ve done too,” he said of American leaders. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.” (Not true.) When O'Reilly argued that those "mistakes" were different than Putin's crimes against humanity, Trump said: "A lot of mistakes. Okay. But a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me."

04 of 09

WHEN HE DEFENDED THE WHITE SUPREMACISTS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE

President Trump Speaks On Infrastructure Meeting Held At Trump Tower
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On the weekend of Aug. 11, 2017, a group of white nationalists marched across the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville in protest of the removal of monuments to Confederate figures. After violence erupted at the rally and killed 32-year-old counter-protestor Heather Heyer, Trump issued a controversial statement where he failed to denounce the white nationalists. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence — on many sides, on many sides," he said. On Aug. 14, he released a new statement, specifically condemning "the KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists" by name. However, in a press conference on Aug. 15, he doubled down on his original claims, saying there were "very fine people" on both sides of the rally in Charlottesville.

Trump later joined in the debate over Confederate monuments when he tweeted that he was "sad to see" the removal of these monuments to Confederate politicians, officials and military figures, which critics say memorialize those who fought to divide the United States and maintain slavery.

05 of 09

WHEN HE SAID SEN. JOHN MCCAIN WASN'T A WAR HERO

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GOP Sen. John McCain has been universally hailed as a war hero ever since he spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But at the Family Leadership Summit in July 2015, Trump said he didn't consider McCain a war hero. “He was a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured," Trump said of McCain, according to Politico.

Following the summit, Trump walked back his remarks, saying, "If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero." Trump did add, however, that he was "disappointed" in McCain because he's "done very little for the veterans."

In a Sept. 24 interview with 60 Minutes, McCain said that Trump never apologized to him directly for his comments.

06 of 09

WHEN HE JOKED ABOUT THE VIETNAM WAR (WHICH HE DIDN'T FIGHT IN)

Howard Stern (left) and Donald Trump in 2000
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Trump's comments about McCain were especially controversial considering the president himself did not fight in the Vietnam War. He received four student deferments, according to Politico, and one medical deferment, for a bone spur in his foot. When reporters asked which foot, Trump told them to look at his records.

Instead, Trump called avoiding STDs in the late 1990s, when he was single, his "personal Vietnam" in an interview with Howard Stern in 1997.

“It’s amazing, I can’t even believe it," he said. "I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider.”

07 of 09

WHEN HE BRAGGED ABOUT HAVING THE TALLEST BUILDING IN LOWER MANHATTAN AFTER 9/11

President Trump Holds Joint News Conference With The Amir Of Kuwait

On Sept. 11, 2001, Trump called into New Jersey’s WWOR-TV/UPN 9 News to discuss the terrorist attacks that had occurred just hours earlier in New York City.

Noting that his building at 40 Wall Street in the Financial District had been the second tallest building in Lower Manhattan before the attacks, Trump boasted that it now held the title of tallest after the Twin Towers came down on 9/11.

"[It] actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually – before the World Trade Center – was the tallest," he said. "And then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest."

08 of 09

WHEN HE TALKED ABOUT HIS INAUGURATION CROWD SIZE WHILE VISITING CIA HEADQUARTERS

President Trump Speaks At CIA Headquarters
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More specifically, Trump made the comments in front of the agency's wall of fallen heroes, which is covered in stars honoring the men and women who lost their lives in service to the country. Trump gave the speech the day after his inauguration, accusing news organizations of lying about the crowd size at the event and calling journalists "among the most dishonest human beings on earth."

Former CIA Director John Brennan made his displeasure over the speech known. His former aide, Nick Shapiro, told NBC: "Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes."

09 of 09

WHEN HIS CAMPAIGN STORE BROKE THE FLAG CODE

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KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty

The U.S. Flag Code reads that the American flag "should never be used as wearing apparel." But Trump's campaign store sells several shirts with the American flag printed on them alongside the words "Team Trump."

The rule is filed under Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 176 of the United States code. The section it's under is called "Respect for flag."

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