“It’s always appropriate for the president of the United States to defend our flag, our national anthem and the men and women who fought and died to defend them,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said when asked about Donald Trump’s call for NFL team owners to fire any “son of a bitch” caught down on one knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Trump’s remark at a campaign rally Friday took up most of the oxygen at Monday’s White House press briefing. Asked about the divisiveness of the statement — and how much time Trump spent Monday morning tweeting on that subject while tweeting nothing about the dire situation in Puerto Rico — Sanders insisted that Trump is “emphasizing something that should be unifying: celebrating and promoting patriotism.”

If NFL players want to protest police actions against African Americans, she said, “don’t do it during the national anthem,” adding that she’s “not sure how the two would be combined.”  She also insisted Trump’s remarks were in no way about race.

One reporter wondered if Trump thinks some of the people kneeling during the anthem at games were “very fine people” – as he has called some who marched with white supremacists in Charlottesville last month – or if he thinks they’re all “sons of bitches.”

“I think you’re trying to conflate two very different things,” Sanders complained.

In other news, North Korea foreign minister Ri Yong-ho claimed Trump declared war on his country by tweeting that North Korea “won’t be around much longer.” Today, Sanders called it “absurd”; she also called it a “suggestion” by the foreign minister, rather than a declaration.

The White House has “not declared war on North Korea,” she insisted.

North Korea’s foreign minister advised that “the whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country” and said Trump’s tweet gave Pyongyang “every right” to shoot down U.S. bombers even when they’re flying outside North Korea’s border.