White House senior advisor Jared Kushner said Thursday that the NBA players refusing to play in protest of a recent police shooting are lucky to be rich enough to be "able to take a night off from work."
Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, was asked on CNBC's "Squawk Box" about the decision of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic to stay off the court following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back by police in Wisconsin on Sunday.
All three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday were postponed in light of the Bucks' protest. Teams from other sports leagues followed suit.
"Look, I think that the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they're able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially," Kushner said. "So they have that luxury, which is great."
Kushner added: "Look, I think with the NBA, there's a lot of activism, and I think that they've put a lot of slogans out. But I think what we need to do is turn that from slogans and signals to actual action that's going to solve the problem."
A spokesman for the NBA did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.
Kushner also praised Trump's record on social justice, listing accomplishments including the signing of a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill into law. He said the president's keynote address at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night will focus on how politicians in Washington, D.C., have "failed" U.S. inner cities "for a long time."
Video footage of the shooting of Blake quickly launched an eruption of outrage toward law enforcement. Similar to what happened after police shootings in other cities, recent demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, turned violent, with news outlets reporting protesters throwing projectiles at police and officers firing tear gas into crowds.
Armed vigilante groups were also present at the demonstrations. One person was arrested Wednesday and is facing homicide charges after allegedly shooting three people, killing two, on Tuesday night, NBC News reported.
Trump has taken a hardline stance against violence that has come out of a massive wave of protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd's death. He has called for the federal government to intervene in Kenosha to clamp down on the unrest but has not tweeted or commented publicly about Blake's shooting.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, his vice presidential pick, said Wednesday that they spoke with Blake's family. Biden also unequivocally condemned the "needless violence" in Kenosha and called for healing and unity.
Later Thursday morning, Kushner told Politico that while "it's nice" to see the players speaking out, "I'd like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive."
Reminded that NBA superstar LeBron James has made significant contributions beyond protesting, Kushner said the Trump administration was open to starting a dialogue with him.
"If LeBron James reached out to the White House, or we could reach out to him, we're happy to talk with him and say, 'Look, let's both agree on what we want to accomplish and let's come up with a common pathway to get there,'" Kushner said.
Kushner told Politico that he has not yet contacted James, but added, "I'll reach out to him today."
This is developing news. Please check back for updates.