An aide has been fired after President Trump took the stage at a Turning Point USA event earlier this week in front of a doctored presidential seal that featured pro-Russian imagery and said “45 is a puppet.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere told the Associated Press officials "never saw the seal" before it was projected on a screen behind Trump as he was introduced Tuesday at Turning Point USA's teen summit. The altered seal appeared on the projector screen for at least 80 seconds behind Trump before it was taken down, the Washington Times reported.
Turning Point USA, a conservative group that has been aligned with Trump, announced Thursday that the aide responsible for the supposedly accidental mix-up has since been fired.
The doctored image featured a two-headed eagle, a direct nod to the Russia Federation’s coat of arms. The bird’s left claw held golf clubs instead of the original’s 13 arrows, which symbolize the 13 colonies. The right claw grasped cash, instead of the original’s olive branch.
President Trump arrives to speak, with an altered presidential seal behind him, at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit 2019, Tuesday, July 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The altered presidential seal read "45 es un titere," which translated from Spanish means “45 is a puppet.” The authentic seal sports the Latin phrase "e pluribus unum," the U.S. motto meaning "out of many, one."
Turning Point USA claimed that, in haste, a member of the video team searched for a high-resolution file of the presidential seal and did not realize that the image was doctored before placing it on the screen behind Trump.
“We’re sorry for the mix-up and meant no disrespect to the White House or the President or the advance team,” the nonprofit told CNN. Turning Point USA insisted they had “zero malicious intent” in the switch.
The Washington Post identified the original graphic designer who created the doctored seal after the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Charles Leazott, 46, of Richmond, Va., said he designed the seal after Trump was elected as a joke among friends and family. It was not intended for a larger audience, he said.
“This is the most petty piece of art I have ever created,” Leazott said of his mock presidential seal design. Leazott told the newspaper he had been a long-time member of the Republican Party and voted for George W. Bush twice. He said when Trump was elected, he no longer identified with the new president's GOP.