Robert Kraft Said Trump's Mission Was 'Divisive' and 'Horrible' in Private NFL Meeting: NYT Report

Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL's New England Patriots and a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, seemed to be less than complimentary of the commander in chief during a private league meeting, according to an exclusive report from The New York Times on Wednesday, which said it obtained and corroborated audio of the meeting between owners and select players.

The Times piece detailed an October meeting where owners and players discussed the high-profile kneeling protests from some players aimed at raising awareness of the oppression of black Americans. Trump had weighed in on the protests, slamming the players who followed the example set by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired," Trump said at a September rally in Alabama about kneeling players. "He's fired!"

In the October meeting, Kraft seemed to suggest that the president's repeated criticisms of the protesting NFL players were detrimental to the country. The kneeling was an "elephant in the room," Kraft said, according to the Times report.

"The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don't feel is in the best interests of America," Kraft added, according to the Times. "It's divisive and it's horrible."

Exclusive: NFL owners and players discussed President Trump and Colin Kaepernick at a private meeting in October. The Times obtained a recording.

— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 25, 2018

The comments are somewhat surprising coming from Kraft, a longtime friend of the former reality TV star turned leader of the free world. The Patriots owner, through the Kraft Group he chairs, donated $1 million to the president's inaugural committee.

Trump touted their friendship as recently as December, claiming the Patriots' owner called to congratulate him on the tax bill he signed. "He said based on this tax bill, he just wanted to let me know that he's going to buy a big plant in the great state of North Carolina and he's going to build a tremendous paper mill there or paper products plant," Trump said at the bill-signing event, via The Boston Globe.