The fake presidential seal that appeared at the TPUSA summit reveals a lot about the dysfunction within Trump’s White House.

On Tuesday, at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit in Washington, D.C., which President Trump attended, the fake presidential seal was displayed behind him. While the spokesperson for Turning Point denies that this was a calculated move, the person responsible, an unnamed staff member of Turning Point, was terminated from their staff. 

However, the picture did not originate with Turning Point, nor was it created by them. In fact, it was created back in 2016 by Charles Leazott, a disenchanted Republican and previously a graphic designer who grew frustrated with the Republican party. He was of the opinion that the Republican party was hijacked by Donald Trump, who turned his party into one he could no longer associate with. He created a fake presidential seal shortly after the results of the 2016 election were announced. Then, he placed the image on a number of consumer products to sell them online.

Leazott indicated to the Washington Post,  that it was not his intention that the image was used in this manner but he was delighted by the mishap. The image of Trump in front of the fake seal is now viral and easily recognizable though before it was nearly impossible to find without careful research according to Leazott, which means that what the Turning Point spokesperson told reporters is probably inaccurate. 

At the TPUSA summit, after someone realized the presidential seal was a fake — with Trump situated in front of the fake seal for about eighty seconds — the image was replaced, but it was there long enough to do some damage. While this moment seems like a simple glitch and nothing more, there are some who suggest otherwise. The question remains as to why the White House would not vet the images before they appeared on a screen behind the President of the United States?  

The Significance of the Fake Seal

The fake seal contains four key differences to the real Presidential Seal: one, there are two eagle heads instead of one which is a direct attempt to emulate the Russian Federation coat of arms but a symbol which also exists on the flags and coat of arms of Albania, Serbia, and Montenegro. However, the symbol traces its history to the Roman empire and long before and is currently associated with empire.

Two, Spanish words reading “45 es un títere” (translation: forty five is a puppet) replaced the Latin phrase “E pluribus unum” (translation: one of many) which alludes a viral exchange between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and to the escalating tensions in the United States between Trump’s administration and undocumented Latin immigrants.

Three, instead of thirteen arrows and olive branches being clutched in the eagle’s claws, there is instead a set of golfclubs in one claw and a wad of cash in the other, an allusion to Trump’s spending of $102 million taxpayer dollars on golf and the associated security necessary for him to play as much as he does.

The fourth and final difference is that the US flag at the center of the seal was changed in shape and embedded with five USSR hammer and sickle symbols on it, a symbol representing a union between the peasantry and working class in the former USSR adopted during the Russian Revolution, though it has been used to represent a variety of different movements since.

It seems ironic that this seal was created years ago, before the special counsel investigation started. With the subsequent Mueller testimony with two different committees this past week, it seems like destiny — or lack thereof — that someone would find a symbol with heavy Russian symbology in combination with the presidential seal to mock Trump at this time.  

What The Seal Reveals

The symbol was never meant to reach a wide audience and was definitely obscure until it appeared behind the President of the United States at this summit. The important thing is that this glitch never should have happened. Amongst a teen group, the likelihood of someone trying to play a practical joke or disparage the President in some way seems high. 

Whether intentional or not, clearly either the White House did not have time to vet the images, was never allowed to do so, or was simply careless, none of which should happen. There have been reports of dysfunction within the Trump White House, the most recent of which to make the news was about dysfunction in the commerce department, headed by Wilbur Ross, who is a huge part of the problem. 

However, this dysfunction is now on display at a public event. Apparently, the photo was never reviewed by officials before it appeared. Not a single scenario should exist where the White House lets the President endure that kind of oversight which subjects him to ridicule. 

Turning Point, of course, completely owns the fact that this was their error and that a mistake like this is not the fault of the White House. However, the White House is held to a substantially higher standard than almost any other institution in the United States and the world. The White House should not have let Turning Point make that mistake.

It is true that not even the White House can control everything, despite its nearly unimaginable power on a national and global stage. However, during this administration, the White House seems more out of step than what appears to be normal. The country has already paid the price with its reputation on the world stage. How much more ridicule will we have to endure before we see the end of this administration?  

Margaret Valenti

Margaret Valenti is the Editor of Generation Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today.