CPAC Attendees Waved Russian Flags During Trump Speech

CPAC attendees waved Russian flags

Early on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held at the at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, the crowd was seen waving what appeared to be tiny pro-Trump flags during President Donald Trump’s speech. But the flags were actually Russian Federation flags handed out by anti-Trump pranksters.

The crowd began waving the flags after Trump commenced his speech.

Hundreds of enthusiastic attendees who waved the flags during Trump’s speech apparently thought they were pro-Trump flags. But CPAC staffers recognized immediately that they were not pro-Trump flags but the white-blue-and-red striped official Russian Federation flags emblazoned on the front with the word “Trump.”

CPAC staffers moved quickly to confiscate the flags, as attendees waved them in the air, Snapchat’s Peter Hamby reported.

Although it was assumed that the attendees who waved the flags thought they were pro-Trump flags, journalist Sarah Posner reported that at least one attendee was seen wearing a T-shirt with the message, “Make Russia Great Again,” according to Raw Story.

“They saw red, white & blue — with ‘TRUMP’ stamped across it — and started to wave them… [gave no] thought to Russian flag, they all said.”

Witnesses later told media reporters that the flags were handed out by a man carrying a greed bag. He appeared as the crowd awaited President Trump’s speech and began handing out the little red-white-and-blue flags emblazoned boldly with the word “Trump.”

Several attendees told Politico’s Tim Alberta they’d thought the man was a staffer, CNBC reported.

“He was dressed like any one of us,” said 20-year-old Tyler Dever, a student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, according to the Los Angeles Times. “He passed them to me and was like, ‘Pass them down, pass them down.'”

Dever did not notice anything unusual about the flags, so he passed them down as instructed. But someone sitting next to him noticed that something was not right about the flags.

“Oh, it’s a Russian flag!” the person said.

“If it was just a red-white-and-blue flag, I would have picked it out,” Dever said, trying to excuse his failure to detect that the tiny flags were not pro-Trump flags, but Russian Federation flags.

He said he was surprised that a provocateur carrying so many Russian flags was able to beat the cordon set up by the Secret Service.

Snopes reports it was later confirmed that the flags were handed out by left-wing activists Jason Charter and Ryan Clayton, known to be linked with the protest group Americans Take Action. An image accompanying a tweet by Economist bureau chief David Rennis, shows Clayton being removed from the CPAC floor by security officials.

When some attendees refused to give up their flags, organizers threatened that anyone caught holding or waving the flags would be thrown out from the venue.

One attendee later admitted to a reporter that he had tried to avoid giving up the flag because he wanted to keep it as a souvenir. He complained that those who took the incident seriously had no sense of humor.

The incident comes amid growing controversy over Trump’s alleged shady ties with Russia after the intelligence community concluded that Putin’s government had intervened covertly to help Trump win the 2016 general election.

Calls for full investigation of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 general elections, as well as Trump’s alleged shady ties with Russia, intensified recently after his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign his appointment.

Flynn was forced to resign in the wake of allegations that he lied to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence that he did not discuss the Obama administration’s Russia sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, prior to the inauguration of the Trump administration.

Flynn’s action was considered in violation of the established regulations, specifically the little-known Logan Act.

But after Flynn’s resignation, the Trump administration defended Flynn’s action, suggesting that he did nothing wrong discussing the Obama administration’s sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

[Featured Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]