- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2018

Team Kaepernick swung back Thursday after Vice President Mike Pence cheered the NFL’s decision to ban kneeling during the national anthem.

Mr. Pence responded to the Wednesday vote at the annual spring meeting by tweeting “#Winning,” prompting free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick to retweet a legal citation posted by his attorney, Mark Geragos, who added, “Winning!”

Mr. Geragos posted a section of the federal code from the Legal Information Institute prohibiting federal elected officials, including the president and vice president, from attempting to influence the hiring decisions of private employers on partisan grounds.

The code states that any “covered government official” may face fines and up to 15 years in prison for acting to “influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity.”

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has filed a grievance against the NFL accusing team owners of colluding to keep him out of the league over his high-profile take-a-knee protests during the national anthem in the 2016 regular season.

Mr. Pence has long opposed the sideline protests, walking out of an Indianapolis Colts game in October over players who refused to stand for the national anthem.

President Trump has fueled fan outrage over the kneelers, suggesting in September that owners fire protesting players.

Both are Republicans, although it’s unclear whether their objections to the kneeling are rooted in their “partisan political affiliation,” given that Mr. Kaepernick hasn’t framed his protest as anti-Republican and isn’t known as a member of the Democratic Party or any other political party.

Mr. Geragos also tweeted a New York Times op-ed headlined, “The NFL kneels to Trump.”

The owners’ vote to prohibit on-field protests while allowing players to remain in the locker room during the national anthem came with regular-season ratings falling by about 20 percent over the last two years.

Under the policy change, the league plans to fine any team whose players or other personnel fail to stand and show respect for the flag and anthem while on the field, and the NFL commissioner may take disciplinary action against individual violators.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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