President Donald Trump responded on Sunday to LaVar Ball, the father of one of the UCLA basketball players released from China after being accused of shoplifting, who recently questioned the president’s role in securing the player’s safe return to the U.S.
The president tweeted that Ball is “unaccepting” of what he did for his son, LiAngelo Ball, adding that because of that he should have left the college students in the Chinese jail.
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Many reporters and media folk on Twitter appeared dismayed by the president’s statement:
“I should have left them in jail!”??? https://t.co/HgEsEA9Tlt
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 19, 2017
sweet jesus pic.twitter.com/jspuCpL1NK
— J.D. Durkin (@jiveDurkey) November 19, 2017
We are living in a simulation. https://t.co/cl98mpIyDB
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) November 19, 2017
How is this man POTUS? https://t.co/WYQEkdQlHL
— deray (@deray) November 19, 2017
Others were concerned Trump was attempting to distract the press from covering Republican’s shaky tax reform efforts:
Gonna slap on my Captain Obvious hat here:
Seems like the point of this is to consume a news cycle that might otherwise focus on a tax bill. https://t.co/qFJPv8JWyX
— Farhad Manjoo (feat. Drake) (@fmanjoo) November 19, 2017
When asked by ESPN about the president’s role in getting his son released from China, Ball responded, “Who?”:
“What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out. […]
As long as my boy’s back here, I’m fine. I’m happy with how things were handled. A lot of people like to say a lot of things that they thought happened over there. Like I told him, ‘They try to make a big deal out of nothing sometimes.’ I’m from L.A. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen than a guy taking some glasses.”
Following their release, the president initially demanded the UCLA basketball players to thank him publicly for helping to return them home.
“I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well,“ Ball’s son said in response. ”I am grateful to be back home, and I will never make a mistake like this again. I am extremely sorry for those who I let down.”