During this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Snapchat's Peter Hamby noticed that audience members were waving tiny Russian flags sporting the name “TRUMP.” While many may not have noticed, the staff soon realized that wasn't a good look for the president, and the tiny flags were all confiscated.
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
Trump has been under a great deal of scrutiny for his alleged ties with Russia — especially after his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned over leaks concerning his conversation with Russian officials during the transition.
According to sources who spoke to The Washington Post, Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador as Trump and his team readied to take over. Instead of being honest with Vice President Mike Pence about the incident, Flynn allegedly told him he hadn't mentioned the sanctions during the conversation.
According to the Independent, one attendee says that the suspicious Russian flags were handed out to college students. They may not have known the flags bore the official Russian colors, so they might have grabbed them in good faith.
To this moment, it's still uncertain whether the flags were meant as a prank or if they were distributed in protest, the Independent reports.
Nevertheless, Tyler Dever, a student at the University of South Florida told the Los Angeles Times that he saw someone wearing a suit distributing the flags and asking others to pass them down. The student wasn't paying attention, so he did what the person asked him to, handing out the flags to others. Moments later, someone sitting next to him told him that they were Russian flags.
Dever said that was his first time at CPAC and that he was surprised to see a provocateur in the audience, especially beyond the cordon that had been set up by the Secret Service.
According to People, a spokesman for the American Conservative Union (ACU), the organization behind CPAC, said a man named Ryan Clayton was responsible for distributing the flags. Clayton was later removed from the conference, and the remainder of his flags were confiscated. He was described as the leader of Americans Take Action.
Clayton's group issued a statement to People following the ordeal, saying that the president "is a clear and present danger to the U.S. Constitution and the American people."
Russian president Vladimir Putin "picked [Trump] for president," his statement continued, "because he knows the Trump regime is good for Russian interests, not the American people."
"Trump is Putin’s puppet, a traitor to the United States, and must be impeached immediately,” the statement added.
During his speech, Trump renewed his attacks against the media, saying that while he is not against the press or even against “the bad stories,” he is “against the fake news media and press.”
If anything, this incident may help to push many to renew their calls for an investigation into Trump's ties with foreign leaders.
Recently, it was reported that Republican lawmakers expect to kill a resolution which aims to launch a probe into the president's business ties. But if House Republicans are vulnerable and afraid of losing upcoming elections to Democrats, many may end up saying yes to the proposition.
Until we know what happens, Democrats should continue to press the matter publicly if they want to be heard, much like the many protesters who have been carrying out rallies these past two months.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst