Conservative group says it has no idea how a presidential seal doctored to include a Russian symbol ended up behind Trump during his speech
On Tuesday, July 23 — the day before former Special Counsel Robert Mueller publicly testified before Congress — President Donald Trump was the victim of an apparent practical joke that referenced Russia as well as his interest in golf.
At a student summit hosted by the right-wing group Turning Point USA, Trump spoke in front of a presidential seal — which, on the surface, appeared normal. But upon examination, it became apparent that the seal had been altered in two ways: the eagle had two heads (not unlike Russia’s national symbol), and the bird is holding golf clubs rather than its usual arrows.
The fake seal reads, “45 es un titere,” which is Spanish for “45 is a puppet.” Trump is the 45th president of the United States.
Who altered that presidential seal and played a practical joke on the president remains a mystery.
A White House spokesman told the Washington Post that Trump and his supporters did not see the altered seal before it appeared on screen and referred questions to Turning Post — which was unsure what happened.
A Turning Point representative told the Post, “Somewhere, there was a breakdown. I think it was as simple as a rushed move throwing up an image, and it was the wrong one.”
The representative added, “It was an A/V mistake….. It certainly wasn’t our intention.”
At an event on Tuesday, Trump unknowingly stood before a fake presidential seal, with the eagle clutching golf club… https://t.co/uZKyFKVo7P— Chris Lu (@Chris Lu)1564061096.0
The timing of the joke was interesting: the following day, Mueller and members of the House of Representatives spoke extensively about Russia government interference in the 2016 presidential election and the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians that year.
A Washington Post reader pointed the publication in the direction of an anti-Trump website that features the fake seal that was used and describes the president as “One Term Donnie.”
Richard Painter, who spent two years as chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, described the incident as an example of “careless” behavior on the part of Trump’s associates.
“You should have control over what the private group is doing, what they’re putting on the screen and anything else,” Painter told the Washington Post. “To let someone project something on the screen that isn’t controlled by the White House is pretty stupid.”
Painter noted that a parody of the presidential seal is protected by the First Amendment
“Someone is going to be getting in trouble,” he said, “but they got one heck of a good laugh out of it.”