PHILADELPHIA (CBS NEWS/CBS PHILLY) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called President Trump a “tyrant” who “is trying to turn this country into a dictatorship.” The mayor made the comments on CBSN on Tuesday morning after the White House disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from a celebration for the team’s Super Bowl victory.
“Cities need to stand up in this country, and many mayors have stood up in this country against this tyrant,” Kenney said. “He is trying to turn this country into a dictatorship by ignoring the courts and by saying and doing what he wants, by ignoring the Department of Justice … and in the end this will all come to a conclusion, and it won’t be a good ending for him.”
Kenney told CBSN’s Vladimir Duthiers that the president “allies himself with strongmen around the world” and seemed to be “more comfortable” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kenney told CBS3 that a part of him was happy that Trump canceled the visit.
“I wasn’t shocked that he did that, but I was also kind of happy he did it, because I didn’t want this team to be disunited over this issue. If he banned all of them for coming, then all of them as a team won’t come,” said Kenney.
On Monday night, the White House abruptly canceled a celebration for the Eagles victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. But Kenney said that won’t stop Philadelphia from celebrating its team.
“Donald Trump ruins a lot of things, he can’t ruin this,” the mayor said.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the president’s decision.
“The president was briefed on the event and decided that since the Eagles were sending a handful of players that he would switch the event to celebrating America. The president has been clear about that for almost a year now. He just believes that people should respect the National Anthem,” said Conway.
“It’s very disappointing for the mayor of Philadelphia to immediately go to politics on this one and to use some words that I find to be very disrespectful. I don’t describe the mayor like that just because crime is up in his city, just because drug use is up in his city,” Conway continued in an interview with CBS3.
The White House’s public explanation for why the event was canceled prompted some pushback.
“They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country,” Mr. Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. “The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”
Duthiers noted on CBSN that although one Eagles player kneeled for the anthem during the preseason, he was eventually cut from the team and none of the players who made the team kneeled during the anthem last season.
Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith, who said previously that he planned to skip the visit, responded with a series of tweets disputing the president’s claims.
“So many lies,” he wrote, adding, “Not many people were going to go.”
On Tuesday, Kenney said he didn’t receive an explanation from the White House for the cancellation.
“I don’t hear from the White House on anything,” Kenney said, “other than when we’re suing them to keep them from defunding us because we’re a welcoming sanctuary city.”
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