False flags: 'Russian Trump pennants' prank at CPAC causes social media meltdown
Trump addressed the conference on Friday morning, following appearances by Vice President Mike Pence and senior White House staff the day before. Former CNN reporter Peter Hamby was first to notice the flags – a white, blue and red tricolors with “Trump” printed in gold block letters on the blue stripe.
Crowd at CPAC waving these little pro-Trump flags that look exactly like the Russian flag. Staffers quickly come around to confiscate them. pic.twitter.com/YhPpkwFCNc— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) February 24, 2017
Hamby’s pictures were quickly shared far and wide, with a variety of outlets critical of Trump – from Vox to Raw Story – using this as proof of his alleged “Russian connection.” Democrats have accused Trump of being a “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin and blamed Hillary Clinton’s stunning electoral defeat to “Russian hacking.”
Former CIA agent Evan McMullin, put forth as a rival to Trump by the establishment wing of the Republican party, jumped on the bandwagon as well.
The flags “appeared to be a prank,” The Hill reported. CPAC officials told Daily Mail Reporter David Martosko that “liberal activist Ryan Clayton” was responsible.
CPAC confirms to me that it was liberal activist Ryan Clayton who was ejected today for handing out the Trump-branded Russian Flags.— David Martosko (@dmartosko) February 24, 2017
Clayton was reportedly ejected from the conference.
CPAC people saw red, white blue and "Trump". They didn't think past it for a second. 🇨🇱🇨🇷🇨🇺🇫🇷🇱🇺🇳🇱🇵🇷🇷🇺 < Moar close enough flags xD— Tw1t3r_J3$u$ (@ZombiesAreBad) February 24, 2017
“We brought in the flags for a little bit of satire, for a little bit of humor for this ever-dreary narrative that's been going on,” Jason Charter, one of the activists involved in the prank, told RT.
He confirmed working with Clayton to buy a number of Russian flags and print Trump’s name on them, then distribute them to the audience at CPAC. The stunt intended to show “that Donald Trump and Russia have very strong ties and that something needs to be done about it,” he said.