US & Canada

Trump's doctored presidential seal leads to firing

Donald Trump is recorded by the crowd speaking at the Teen Action Summit in Washington, DC Image copyright Alex Wong/Getty Images
Image caption Donald Trump is recorded by the crowd speaking at the Teen Action Summit in Washington, DC

A member of a conservative US group has been fired after projecting a doctored version of the presidential seal at an event featuring President Donald Trump.

A representative for the group, Turning Point USA, told the Washington Post that the fake seal was a mistake, the result of a rushed online search.

But while the group called the slip-up "unacceptable", they maintained there was no "malicious intent".

So what's the story behind the doctored presidential seal?

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The doctored seal and the real one - can you spot the differences?

When Mr Trump took to the stage at Turning Point USA's student summit, the president looked to be in his element, greeted by a crowd of adoring young conservatives.

After a 12-minute video detailing his journey to the White House, Mr Trump addressed the group, his remarks met with raucous applause.

"There's never been anything like this," Mr Trump said to the crowd.

But upon closer inspection, something about the president's presentation appeared amiss. First noted by the Washington Post, the seal that was flashed on screen as Mr Trump walked on stage had several calculated tweaks - all of which seemed to poke fun at the president.

Both the White House and Turning Point say they don't know how the doctored seal made its way on screen, and the conservative group denies any harmful intent.

However, it ended up behind the president, the incident has left the seal's creator - who made it a couple of years ago as a joke for his friends - laughing.

"This is the most petty piece of art I have ever created," graphic designer Charles Leazott told the Washington Post - adding that the person who put it up was "either wildly incompetent or the best troll ever".

"Either way," he told the newspaper, "I love them."

Here's what's behind the unwelcome alterations.

A nod to Russia?

The focal point of the presidential seal - the bald eagle - has a storied past in the United States.

The animal has been the nation's emblem since 1789, selected for its allusions to strength and independence.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The doctored seal and the Russian coat of arms

But the eagle that appeared on screen this week was not the eagle hand-picked by the Founding Fathers. Instead, the two-headed bird briefly projected next to Mr Trump bears a striking resemblance to the eagle featured on the Russian flag.

Two-headed eagles also appear on the flags of Serbia, Albania and Montenegro, but this particular seal-swap seems likely to reference Russia, as Mr Trump's close ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin have been a running narrative of his presidency.

Image copyright Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Image caption Russian journalists watch Mr Trump shake hands with Mr Putin (R) in July 2018

Mr Trump's favourite pastime

The alterations to the bald eagle don't stop there.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The eagle in the doctored seal clings onto a different type of bounty from the original

Instead of holding 13 arrows - a reference to the 13 original states - the eagle in the doctored seal clutches a set of golf clubs in its left talon.

The two-headed eagle's unusual bounty appears to be an ode to the president's well-documented love of golf.

According to the Washington Post, by October 2018 Mr Trump had visited his golf course in Virginia more than 40 times since taking office and has visited his private club in Bedminster, New Jersey on 70 separate occasions.

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Media captionWho cares about Trump's $50,000 golf simulator?

And Mr Trump's penchant for golf isn't cheap. According to analysis by the Huffington Post, as of May, his golf trips have cost taxpayers at least $102m (£82m) in extra travel and security expenses.

The price tag attached to Mr Trump's beloved hobby may be implied by the goods in the eagle's right talon. Instead of the olive branch that appears in the legitimate presidential seal, the bald eagle clings on to a wad of cash.

Do you speak Latin?

The official presidential seal features the United States motto: "E pluribus unum", which translates from Latin to "out of many, one".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Trump stands beside the doctored seal, with the quote highlighted

But the quote on the forged seal swaps in a different quote, in a different language.

The doctored seal says "45 es un títere" which translates in Spanish to "45 is a puppet".

Mr Trump, the 45th president of the United States, was accused by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 debates of being Mr Putin's puppet - to which he responded "you're the puppet".

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