WASHINGTON – Speaking on Tuesday at a student activist conference hosted by the conservative advocacy organization Turning Point USA, President Donald Trump walked onstage in front of a presidential seal that, upon closer examination, appears to have been altered to include symbols representing Russia and golf.
The Washington Post first reported on the altered seal. As Trump walked onstage to a cheering audience, two presidential seals flashed on screen. The seal directly behind Trump was the authentic presidential seal. One of the seals, however, was not like the others.
Upon closer examination, the seal on Trump's right includes a double-headed eagle, unlike the single head of the traditional presidential seal, and seems to resemble the Russian coat of arms. The seal has a complex history, notes the Victoria and Albert Museum, but one of the more common interpretations is that the two heads represent east and west, "an allegory sometimes for unity, and sometimes for absolute monarchy." It could be a reference to Trump's sometimes-controversial relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The eagle also appears to be holding several golf clubs instead of arrows in its claws, perhaps a reference to Trump's affinity for golf.
Additionally, instead of "e pluribus unum," the scroll above the eagle appears to say "45 es un titere," which appears to translate from Spanish to mean "45 is a puppet."
It is not clear where the image originated, though, or who was responsible for the mixup.
“It was a last-minute A/V mistake — and I can’t figure out where the breakdown was — but it was a last minute throw-up, and that’s all it was,” a Turning Point USA spokesman told the Washington Post, adding that he didn't know who was to blame or where the image was from.
"We never saw the seal in question before it appeared in the video," said Deputy White House Press Secretary Judd Deere, deferring further questions to Turning Point USA.
Turning Point USA has not yet responded to requests for comment from USA TODAY. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted a video of his appearance at the event that included a shot of the seal.