Approximately 90 percent of Puerto Rico is still without power and the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history occurred last week, but the Trump administration remains fixated on NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem. This afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence left a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers after some players chose to take a knee.
"I left today's Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," he wrote. "At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us."
Trump quickly took to Twitter to state that he had told Pence to leave the game if any players knelt during the National Anthem. "I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen," Trump wrote.
According to The New York Times, the vice president flew from the west coast to Indianapolis, where the Colts were playing a team that's known for its participation in the NFL protest movement against racial injustice. The outlet reports that Pence didn't take a pool reporter into the stadium and a member of his staff said the vice president might be leaving early.
And just days after Trump told Puerto Rico that it had "thrown our budget a little out of whack," people were quick to criticize the expense of Pence's trip: He flew from Las Vegas to Indianapolis, then immediately looped back to the west coast for a trip to Los Angeles.
Others pointed out that, if Pence had stayed in Indianapolis for the duration of the game, he wouldn't have arrived in Los Angeles on time for a 6:30 p.m. fundraiser — so it definitely appears that he showed up to the game solely so he could leave before it even began.
Both NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy and Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano declined to comment on Pence's actions.