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Liberal Activists' Prank Had Some at CPAC Waving Russian 'Trump' Flags

They handed out flags in a nod to allegations of Russian interference in the election. Both were ejected, but said the stunt exceeded expectations.
Image: A CPAC employee collects Russian flags that were handed out as a prank during the conference
A CPAC employee collects Russian flags that were handed out as a prank during the conference.Maya Shwayder / DW News

President Donald Trump got an eyeful of red, white and blue after two liberal activists handed out nearly 1,000 Russian flags to unwitting attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Ryan Clayton, 36, and Jason Charters, 22 — both members of Americans Take Action — handed out the Russian Federation flags inside and outside of CPAC, which they emblazoned with the word "TRUMP" in gold letters.

Clayton and Charters said the prank went better than expected because most of the wavers did not recognize the flag’s country of origin, forcing CPAC staffers to confiscate the free "souvenirs."

"The amount of people who didn't know the flag was astonishing," said Charters, who added that most attendees were excited to be given the flags.

Director of Communications for the American Conservative Union Ian Walters, the organization that puts on the conference, did not immediately respond for comment.

The two liberal organizers said the plot was hatched because they wanted to bring attention to the allegations that the Russian government was involved in an operation to interfere in the American election, which U.S. intelligence officials have said evolved into an attempt to help Trump win.

"It makes a great point. We shouldn't have foreign powers picking our president," said Clayton, who heads Americans Take Action.

"Some call it a false flag operation," Clayton added. "I like to call it a true flag operation because Trump’s definitely the wrong kind of red, white and blue."

While Clayton and Charters handed out flags, they used Russian accents and shouted comparisons of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They said the prank was well-received by many who have reached out to them since it went viral on social media.

"Most people are telling us, 'Thank you for being our voice in that place to Donald Trump,'" Clayton said.

CPAC staffers kicked out Clayton three times from the conference, and Charters got the boot once. Charters was escorted outside by security after he stood up during Trump’s speech and called Trump "Putin’s puppet" and a "fascist."

"We think his values are fundamentally un-American and he is a danger to the issues we most care about," Charters said.

Americans Take Action is a liberal activist group that strives to have the president impeached and for three additional goals. They question the fairness of American elections and aim to better their quality, support a purpose-driven economy and want to fight any threat to internet freedom.

Charters and Clayton believe that the majority of Americans are worried that there is an unexplored relationship between the president and Russia. Trump said at a press conference last week that he has no deals with the country, and "I have nothing to do with Russia."

"Most Americans feel like something is wrong here," Charters said. "They feel it in their gut. There is a weird connection between this guy in the Oval Office and the people in Russia."

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said the two might not be wrong. More than half of Americans believe that Congress should investigate whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign had contact with the Russian government in 2016.

Their immediate future isn't quite clear, but this isn't the final statement for Americans Take Action. According to Charters and Clayton, they'll continue as long as Trump is in office.

"We’ve been doing these types of actions for a while," Clayton said. "And we’ll continue to do them until President Trump gets impeached."