An unknown number of Russian flags with the name "Trump" imprinted on them were confiscated at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on 24 February, just as President Trump began his scheduled speech.
Reported sightings of the flags, which in many cases were being waved enthusiastically by attendees, had spread rapidly via social media:
Just saw activist friend distributing miniature Trump flags. Well kinda. The name Trump was printed on top of Russian flag. #CPAC2017
— mike_stark (@mike_stark) February 24, 2017
Someone is passing out Russian flags with TRUMP on them. Protests come in all forms. #Freedom #Merica #CPAC pic.twitter.com/Ynx37ZjXxA
— #HappyDee (@DeeInHouston) February 24, 2017
Do they even know this is the Russian Flag? But POTUS Obama was going to bring us down... @HouseGOP @LVBurke @howardfineman @chrislhayes pic.twitter.com/Wxjv8HmyeA
— George W. Mitchell (@GW_MitchellMHA) February 24, 2017
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
The distribution of the flags turned out to be a prank orchestrated by left-wing activists Jason Charter and Ryan Clayton, who are both associated with the protest group Americans Take Action. A tweet by Economist bureau chief David Rennie showed Clayton, who many attendees apparently mistook for a staffer, being ejected from the CPAC floor:
Security ejects protestor pretending to be Russian Trump fan. #CPAC2017 delegates saying "get him out of here" pic.twitter.com/yFOrTJU6Ca
— David Rennie (@DSORennie) February 24, 2017
The flags were presumably intended to spoof President Trump's alleged ties with Russia and Vladimir Putin. According to Buzzfeed, Clayton and Charter claimed they arrived at the conference toting 1,000 of the flags and left with none. CPAC officials have not yet issued a statement about the incident.