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Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there were attempts to reschedule the event.
President Donald Trump‘s administration is now firmly casting blame on the Philadelphia Eagles for their cancelled trip to the White House.
Last night, the White House said Trump decided to cancel a planned visit from the Eagles, the NFL‘s Super Bowl champions, initially citing a disagreement between the president and some members of the team about protests during the National Anthem.
On Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shifted course, saying the team “decided to abandon their fans” by not attending the event.
Sanders, in a statement, said the Eagles told the White House 81 members of the team, coaching staff, and management would attend the event, arriving at the White House along with 1,000 fans.
There were attempts to reschedule the event, according to Sanders, but the Eagles said only a small number of players were planning on coming.
“Unfortunately, the Eagles offered to send only a tiny handful of representatives, while making clear that the great majority of players would not attend the event, despite planning to be in D.C. today,” Sanders said in a statement. “In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans.”
Trump withdrew the invitation to visit the White House on Monday night. In a statement then, the president said “they disagree with” him about kneeling during the national anthem, a protest many players have participated in to highlight oppression and police brutality of people of color.
Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith said Trump’s statement included “so many lies.”
The White House’s new statement comes after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney blasted the president for cancelling the event.
“Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend,” Kenney said in a statement.
Instead, the White House is planning a “Celebration of America” at the time the Eagles were scheduled to visit, where the United States Marine Band and United States Army Chorus will “loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.”