On Tuesday, President Trump appeared before the Turning Point USA student summit, the conservative campus free speech group populated by the kind of budding Alex P. Keatons who carry briefcases to school. The president’s speech was his typical off-script soliloquy where he encourages the sympathetic crowd to deride the “fake news” and unloads on political enemies, both real and imagined. What set this appearance apart, aside from the bizarre 12-minute sizzle reel which reportedly boasted about the president’s prowess with women, was the presidential seal projected behind Trump.
Instead of the standard presidential seal, the one behind Trump contained a set of golf clubs, a two-headed eagle lifted from the Russian coat of arms, and the Spanish phrase ““45 es un títere,” which translates to “45 is a puppet.” According to the Washington Post, no one can figure out how the switch happened.
“It was a last-minute A/V mistake — and I can’t figure out where the breakdown was — but it was a last minute throw-up, and that’s all it was,” a Turning Point rep told the Post. “I can’t figure out who did it yet… I don’t know where they got the image from.”
The Turning Point flack claimed that the audio/visual staff for the event was comprised of the organization’s staffers and employees from the Marriott Marquis hotel that hosted the event. Hotel employees speaking to the Post that they don’t create images or videos for events, they just provide the space and A/V equipment.
Although no one is sure who managed to get the image past event staff, the doctored seal resembles merchandise sold by an artist with the handle “OneTermDonnie.” SPIN reached out to the artist to ask if this was in fact their design and if they knew how the fake seal ended up getting used during a presidential photo op. We’ll update if we hear back.
The White House denied even noticing the seal and claimed not to know how it got there.
UPDATE: A Turning Point rep told Washington Post that a member of the video team had been let go over the snafu.
“We did let the individual go,” the spokesman told the Post. “I don’t think it was malicious intent, but nevertheless.” The flack added that the mixup was “unacceptable” and chalked it up to a rushed image search conducted right before the president took the stage.