In a play toward appealing to the demographic among supporters of Donald Trump who enjoy subtle parodies of modern art, the president’s campaign store is selling a T-shirt that mocks the official portrait of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
According to HyperAllergic, the official Trump store is selling a T-shirt called “I Spy Trump Tree,” which is a direct parody of Kehinde Wiley’s official portrait of Obama. The shirt also references accusations, which have not been substantiated, that Obama “spied on” Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The shirt’s listed price is $28.
“SPY GAMES!” the item’s copy reads, in a cadence that, probably purposely, resembles the style of the president’s tweets. “We can’t let Democrats and their cronies in the Fake News cover up corruption in the SWAMP! We must FIGHT BACK and GET ANSWERS. Get your LIMITED EDITION ‘I Spy Trump’ Tee NOW!”
In addition, the website says, “wiretapping not included.”
The design of the shirt, with Obama looking through bushes with binoculars, is likely meant to recall President Barack Obama artist Kehinde Wiley’s portrait which was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in early 2018. In that portrait, the former president is shown seated in a chair amid green foliage.
The “spying” allegations were first made by Trump in a tweet on March 4, 2017, in which he declared, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Nothing has ever been substantiated in regards to an actual wiretap being placed in Trump Tower by Obama or his administration, and it’s not clear where Trump got the idea.
I wonder how many of those 4 in 10 people bought this t-shirt from the Trump/Pence 2020 campaign website (not some t-shirt store in Daytona Beach, but the Trump/Pence campaign website...which is totally normal I suppose). pic.twitter.com/VCQtRB3zEC— Jeff Dicks (@hoosierfan0814) April 17, 2019
The “spying” accusation has also at times centered around the FISA wiretaps that were obtained for Carter Page, a somewhat obscure foreign policy adviser in the early stages of Trump’s campaign. However, FISA warrants against Page had been sought as early as 2014, before Trump was running for president, and continued after he left the campaign.
Also, there was a secret FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump, known as Operation Crossfire Hurricane, but such investigations are not generally referred to as “spying” in any meaningful sense.
In Congressional testimony last week, Attorney General William Barr said that he believed “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign, per The Guardian. The attorney general, however, did not elaborate on what he meant by the accusation. Democrats have since criticized Barr’s statement.