White house officials and event staff were left scratching their heads after President Donald Trump unwittingly delivered a speech in front of a fake US presidential seal.
The seal, which featured a two-headed eagle clutching golf clubs and a wad of cash, appeared on screen behind President Trump during his 80-minute speech at a Turning Point USA student summit last week.
Officials at the White House along with organisers at Turning Point USA – a political non-profit group founded to organise conservative students on college campuses by an outspoken supporter of President Trump – had no idea at the time how it got there or where the graphic came from.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) July 25, 2019
However, shortly after the event the organiser conceded that it had been responsible for the debacle, after an audiovisual aide allegedly used a graphic found on Google.
“With the pressure of the event, [they] didn’t notice that it is a doctored seal,” a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
But the creator of the seal, Charles Leazott – a disgruntled Republican supporter who threw it together as a joke after President Trump was elected in 2016 – said the likelihood of someone coming across it by chance was “a load of crap”.
“You have to look for this. There’s no way this was an accident is all I’m saying,” Leazott told The Washington Post.
The seal is loaded with political mockery directed specifically at President Trump, with the original arrows, olive branch, Latin motto and eagle changed.
In place of arrows in the eagle’s claws, Leazott substituted them for a set of golf clubs, a nod to the President’s “favourite passtime”. In the other set of talons, the olive branch has been replaced with a wad of cash, while the United States’ Latin motto – “E Pluribus Unum”, which means “from many one” – has been replaced with the Spanish “45 es un titere”.
The translation of the Spanish line, reportedly used as a nod to President Trump’s chaotic relationship with Mexico and Latin America, is “45 is a puppet”.
President Trump is the 45th President of the United States.
Finally, the two-headed imperial eagle, which replaced the single, Bald eagle of the original emblem, has been lifted straight from the Russian coat of arms, according to The Washington Post.
A Turning Point spokesperson told The Washington Post last Wednesday the group wasn’t even aware of the faux seal until the news outlet called them.
The spokesperson reportedly spent that night trying to track down the culprit and determine whether it was an intentional act by a rogue staffer, or just an honest mistake.
On Thursday morning the group identified the staffer responsible, according to the spokesperson, who called the incident a last-minute oversight, and the result of a quick online search to find a second high-resolution photo of the presidential seal to place behind Trump.
The spokesperson said the mistake was “unacceptable.”
“We did let the individual go,” the spokesperson said. “I don’t think it was malicious intent but nevertheless.”
Leazott believes the image was used intentionally, and that whoever used it went looking for it, according to reports by The Washington Post.