President Donald Trump escalated a war of words with U.S. women's World Cup soccer star Megan Rapinoe on Wednesday, saying "Megan should WIN first before she TALKS," referring to Rapinoe's expletive-fueled refusal to even consider visiting the White House.
Trump's three-tweet fusillade against Rapinoe — who since 2016 has kneeled or pointedly not sung or held her hand over her heart during the playing of the national anthem before games — said that "Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House or our Flag."
But he also said he is inviting the entire U.S. team to the White House, "win or lose."
Trump's tweets came a day after a video clip was posted of Rapinoe saying, with a scoff, "I'm not going to the f------ White House."
"No, I'm not going to the White House. We're not going to be invited. I doubt it," Rapinoe said in the clip posted by Eight By Eight Magazine.
Rapinoe has previously called Trump "sexist," "misogynistic," "racist" and "not a good person," and said "I feel like I'm a walking protest" when asked if she ever feels strange wearing a U.S. soccer jersey while Trump is president.
Her team is set to play the host France in Paris in the World Cup quarterfinals on Friday.
She told Eight By Eight that Trump "tries to avoid inviting a team that might decline. Or, like he did when the Warriors turned him down, he'll claim they hadn't been invited in the first place."
The Golden State Warriors, who won the NBA Championship in 2017 and 2018, did not visit the White House after their title in 2017 because Trump rescinded the invite when star players Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant said they would not go. Trump did not invite them after the second title.
Rapinoe began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 just days after then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began doing so in protest of police brutality.
"I'll probably never put my hand over my heart," Rapinoe told Yahoo News last month. "I'll probably never sing the national anthem again."
She wrote in a Player's Tribune essay in 2016, "I haven't experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member's body lying dead in the street."
"But I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache," Rapinoe wrote. "There is no perfect way to protest. I know that nothing I do will take away the pain of those families. But I feel in my heart it is right to continue to kneel during the national anthem, and I will do whatever I can to be part of the solution."
Trump, in an interview with The Hill earlier this week, was asked about Rapinoe's conduct during the anthem and whether he believed it was appropriate.
"No, I don't think so," the president said.