During his Friday speech to CPAC speech, President Donald Trump tried to quash coverage of his administration’s Russia scandal in an indirect way by taking aim at the anonymous leakers who have regularly revealed new allegations about his shady connections with Russia and the Russian government’s attempt to sway the 2016 presidential election in his favor.
“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,” Trump opined. “Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out.”
The president might not have directly addressed the Russia scandal, but liberal activists trolled CPAC attendees into making it visible during the speech by handing out Russia flags with “TRUMP” emblazoned on them.
Crowd at CPAC waving these little pro-Trump flags that look exactly like the Russian flag. Staffers quickly come around to confiscate them. pic.twitter.com/YhPpkwFCNc
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) February 24, 2017
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) February 24, 2017
The activists behind the flags are Americans Take Action members Jason Charter and Ryan Clayton.
Conservative activist James O’Keefe posted video of them being escorted out of CPAC once their shenanigans came to light:
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) February 24, 2017
Reached for comment, Clayton, using a Borat accent, told ThinkProgress that “I’m for strong leader like President Trump — that’s why Putin picked him!”
— David Rennie (@DSORennie) February 24, 2017
Speaking more soberly, Charter said the idea was to “shed some light on an important issue, but using laughter” in an environment where people are “being bombarded with negative news stories.”
He added that “most people did not have a clue about what was going on.”
“They took the flags and waved them not realizing they’re Russia flags,” Charter said. “I was actually really hopeful to see that a lot of people at CPAC were not Trump supporters, they were libertarians mortified at what Trump is doing.”
— Jason Charter (@JasonRCharter) February 24, 2017
Trump may want the Russia story to go away, but his CPAC speech came the same day news broke that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had attempted to meddle in the FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election. In light of that revelation, Democratic member of Congress are expressing increased interest in an investigation. And following a briefing from FBI Director James Comey a week ago, Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee seem to be on the same page.