Mariano Rivera Defends His Support of Donald Trump, Responds to Backlash

An editorial on Sunday accused the former Yankees great of having "served at the pleasure of a racist president."
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Baseball Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera defended his support for President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

During an appearance on 'Fox & Friends,' Rivera responded to backlash stemming from a column published on Sunday that accused the former Yankees great of having "served at the pleasure of a racist president."

"He was a friend of mine before he became president," Rivera said. "So, because he's president I will turn my back on him? No. I respect him. I respect what he does and I believe he's doing the best for the United States of America."

Baseball's career saves leader also defended his support for Israel, which the column called "thinly veiled propaganda on behalf of a far-right government in Israel, and gotten chummy with outright bigots and apocalyptic loons."

"When it comes to Israel, as a Christian, if my Savior Jesus Christ, he's a Jew, so how am I going to turn my back and say, 'Oh, I won't support Israel,'" Rivera said.

Rivera's support for Trump differs from other players currently in the league. David Ortiz has previously openly criticized the president, telling WEEI radio in May that, "You don’t want to go and shake hands with a guy who is treating immigrants like sh--, because I’m an immigrant."

Rivera, a 13-time All-Star, is co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition and has also served on the Opioid Drug Abuse Commission.