How did Trump end up in front of a presidential seal doctored to include a Russian symbol?


At first glance, there was nothing unusual about President Trump’s introduction Tuesday at Turning Point USA’s student summit. In many ways, it mirrored the production style that has become synonymous with Trump’s campaign rallies.

Following a 12-minute video illustrating Trump’s rise to the presidency, music blared as the president’s name flashed across a giant screen in a bold shade of red. Trump took the stage and soaked in the raucous cheers from hundreds of young supporters packed inside the Marriott Marquis in Washington. 

Charlie Kirk, Turning Point’s outspoken founder and executive director, was on his left. But the image on the screen to Trump’s right — captured in dozens of photos and videos from the event — is less familiar.

The image almost resembles the official seal of the president, but a closer examination reveals alterations that seem to poke fun at the president’s golfing penchant and accusations that he has ties to Russia. Neither the White House nor Turning Point knows how it got there or who created it.

The eagle has two heads instead of one — a symbol historically tied to empire and dominance. It closely resembles the bird on the Russian coat of arms and also appears on the flags of Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. Its left talons, rather than clasping 13 arrows, appear to clutch a set of golf clubs.

One Washington Post reader noted a website that sells merchandise featuring what appears to be the same fake seal. In those images, the words on the parody eagle’s banner say “45 es un titere,” which in Spanish translates to “45 is a puppet.” On the official presidential seal, the eagle’s mouth holds a banner with the U.S. motto, “E pluribus unum” — out of many, one. The fake seal on the shop’s merchandise shows the eagle clutching cash in its right talons.

The Post reached out to the Twitter and Facebook accounts associated with the Web retailer, “OneTermDonnie,” but has not received a reply.

A projection of the true presidential seal was centered behind Trump’s name as he walked onstage. The true seal was also on the lectern where the president spoke for 80 minutes.

A White House spokesperson told The Post they did not see the fake seal before it appeared on-screen and referred questions about the incident to Turning Point.

In a phone interview Wednesday, a spokesman for the conservative group said he didn’t know where the altered seal came from or how it ended up on a screen behind the president. He said the mistake probably came from the team that handled the event’s audio and visual production.

“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,” he said. “I can’t figure out who did it yet.”

“I don’t know where they got the image from,” he added.

According to Turning Point, the audio/visual team helped create and coordinate the graphics, images and videos displayed at Tuesday’s event — including the official seal shown behind Trump’s flashing name on the screen.

The Turning Point spokesman said the team was made up of staff from his organization and from the hotel. On Wednesday evening, he was still working to determine who, exactly, was responsible.

“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 spokesman said, adding it was unfortunate that the faux seal drew attention away from the event’s star-studded lineup of conservative speakers. “It was an A/V mistake . . . it certainly wasn’t our intention.”

Employees at the Marriott Marquis say the hotel generally does not furnish images or video for groups hosting events there. The venue provides only the space and the technology, such as televisions and projectors. The hotel’s event manager who helped coordinate the summit did not return phone messages requesting comment Wednesday.

Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, said the president’s staff should typically have advanced knowledge and command over images and video displayed at events where the president appears.

He called the incident “careless.”

“You should have control over what the private group is doing, what they’re putting on the screen and anything else,” said Painter, now a law professor at the University of Minnesota. “To let someone project something on the screen that isn’t controlled by the White House is pretty stupid.”

congressional statute indicates that the presidential seal may not be used to falsely suggest sponsorship or approval by the U.S. government, but Painter and other legal experts say parodies of the seal are protected under the First Amendment right of free expression.

The projection appeared to be a practical joke — but one likely to embarrass a particularly image-conscious president, Painter said.

“Someone is going to be getting in trouble,” he said, “but they got one heck of a good laugh out of it.”

The bird on the doctored seal closely resembles the shape of the double-headed eagle that has been Russia’s coat of arms for centuries. It appears on some former renderings of the country’s flag and figures prominently in the jerseys of Russia’s vaunted national hockey team.

The set of clubs in the eagle’s claw are probably a tribute to Trump’s well-documented golfing habit. The Post previously reported that by October of last year, the president had visited his golf course in Virginia more than 40 times and spent all or part of more than 70 days at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

In May, the HuffPost reported that Trump’s golfing cost taxpayers more than $102 million in travel and security expenses. This comes despite the fact that Trump frequently censured Barack Obama for his love of the sport — he tweeted at least 27 times that Obama played golf too much. On Saturday, Trump made a surprise appearance at a wedding ceremony held at the Bedminster location.

The two-headed eagle also appears at the bottom of the logo for Turnberry, Trump’s luxury resort and golf course in Scotland.

For Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, the fact that a doctored seal appearing to mock Trump was allowed to be projected behind him as he walked onto a stage was equal parts stunning and perplexing.

“It’s hard to believe . . . who did this?” she said. “Was someone at Turning Point trolling Trump? I just think Putin would probably approve.”

See the pics here:


8 thoughts on “How did Trump end up in front of a presidential seal doctored to include a Russian symbol?

  1. How? That’s easy, the SOB is on the take, big time. Putin has this clown right where he wants him. In his pocket.

    Trump the chump plays a con that isnt going unnoticed. Borrows out the ass, doesnt pay it back, big shot bullshit, the realestate flip circus bark that has ruined it for American Nationals.

    He borrows from a bank, makes a deal, runs up the rent so now nobody can afford it, only to make the banks happy to loan, because that is their business.

    Property eventually goes into receivership because that’s what happens, on the market again, whole con starts all over again.

    It’s called the chump shuffle.

    22 trillion dollar debt? You betcha….. in the meantime, people living in tents. Our people lived better in the 1800s.

    Oh yeah, and Trump has really white teeth…

  2. “The fake seal on the shop’s merchandise shows the eagle clutching cash in its right talons.”

    NAILED IT!!!!!

    I ‘vote’ to make it the OFFICIAL seal.

  3. If anyone desires to rail on Trumptards go to the link below in article. It’ll take you to the speech on yt. Lots of Tr-tards hailing the communist. Be warned, it may ruin your day and dinner.

    “captured in dozens of photos and videos”

  4. Here’s just one of the disgusting comments.

    “People say our President, Mr Trump, is a pompous arrogant pig. But when I look at him standing before the podium, waiting for the song to end, I see a choked up man, who loves this nation with all his heart. When he begins to speak I hear the sincerity in his voice, He loves us too … All of us.”

    1. Take away the assholes cash and see what he does. These idiots have no idea because they have been conned by a circus bark conman.

  5. This one is to ruin any dessert you may have been planning.

    “This man is saving the world, make no mistake about it. If he gets reelected in 2020 the last 4 would be ‘baby stuff’ compared to what he will do with the house back. ROLL TRUMP!!”

    1. Sad, really really sad. There is no helping these idiots.has these morons looked out their window lately? Not a damn thing has changed, except the whiteness of Trumps teeth.

      1. Totally agree Mark. It’s more infuriating than sad to me. We’ll have these morons to thank & deal with severely.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.