Speed Reads

Last laughs

The ex-Republican who created the parody seal projected behind Trump is laughing all the way to the bank

When the conservative group Turning Point USA announced Thursday that it had fired the staffer who projected a parody presidential seal behind President Trump during his speech to the group, a spokesman said he thought it was an honest mistake based on a sloppy Google search. Charles Leazott, the 46-year-old graphic designer who created the seal after the 2016 election, a form of mocking catharsis for the Republican Party he said Trump drove him from, isn't buying it.

"That's a load of cr-p," Leazott told The Washington Post. "You have to look for this. There's no way this was an accident is all I'm saying." Leazott's parody seal has some obvious differences from the real one — the American eagle replaced by a two-headed eagle from Russia's coat of arms, golf clubs in one claw instead of arrows, wads of cash in the other claw — and some more subtle ones, like the U.S. motto "E pluibus unum" ("out of many, one") swapped with a Trump-specific Spanish phrase, "45 es un títere," or "45 is a puppet." No one at Turning Point USA or the White House noticed any of this until the Post pointed it out Wednesday.

The Turning Point USA staffer who put it behind Trump was "either wildly incompetent or the best troll ever — either way, I love them," Leazott told the Post. He had put the parody seal on T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other merchandise on an online marketplace, and the publicity from the story led to a run on his products; as of Thursday afternoon, the shirts were sold out and he was struggling to meet demand, the Post reports.

"It's cool people are buying this, that's great and all," Leazott said. "But I've got to be honest, I am so tickled in the most petty way possible that the president of the United States, who I despise, stood up and gave a talk in front of this graphic. Whoever put that up is my absolute hero."