In a widely publicized misstep, the organizers of a college Republicans’ event in the nation’s capital projected a doctored version of the U.S. presidential seal behind President Donald Trump for a minute or two on stage this week.
One person suspected of finding and showing the image ― with its references to Russia and Trump’s golf habit ― was swiftly fired.
But the man who created the doctored, satirical seal has only kind words for whoever pulled the stunt.
“I love them,” said Charles Leazott, a former Republican and graphic designer who was tracked down by The Washington Post on Thursday. Leazott created the seal as a joke just after the 2016 election and told the Post he never expected it to blow up in the news.
The designer said he couldn’t be sure whether the person who chose his graphic was “wildly incompetent or the best troll ever,” but suspects the explanation given by the conservative group Turning Point USA, which hosted Trump, is nonsense. Turning Point said the seal ended up onscreen due to a last-minute error in finding a high-resolution image to project behind the president.
“You have to look for this,” Leazott told the newspaper. “There’s no way this was an accident, is all I’m saying.”
Turning Point managed to display an accurate representation of the presidential seal later during the president’s 80-minute speech.
The doctored image can be traced back to a website Leazott set up to sell shirts and other merchandise featuring the doctored seal. Its central bald eagle has two heads instead of one ― resembling the Russian coat of arms ― and clutches golf clubs in one of its talons. A scroll above the eagle reads, in Spanish, “45 is a puppet.”
Leazott said his T-shirts are now sold out. A photo of Trump in front of the seal is his new computer desktop background.
“Whoever put that up is my absolute hero,” he told the Post.