WATCH: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo responds to backlash over White House visit

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One week after the Washington Nationals visited the White House as honorees following their 2019 World Series Championship, team General Manager Mike Rizzo responded Monday to the backlash over the visit.

“We weren’t trying to make a political statement, whatsoever,’’ general manager Mike Rizzo told USA TODAY Sports in a wide-ranging conversation about the club’s crucial offseason. “We just thought that the honor and the tradition of champions being invited to the White House and the office of the president, and especially us being the hometown team in their backyard two miles away from the capital, is something that should be done.

“Obviously, each player could make their own decision whether they wanted to attend, but most of the players were excited by it.”

Most memorably, catcher Kurt Suzuki put on a “Make America Great Again,” hat when he took the podium and president Donald Trump hugged him from behind in response.

Rizzo said that the team was “damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” in regard to accepting the invitation from the president following the Nats’ first World championship, adding that he is a registered Independent and that he votes in every election for who he wants.

“The office of the president is something that we respect,” Rizzo said. ‘We felt we should be there. We also felt we should do it with everyone still in town there, or not do it at all.”

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