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The CPAC Crowd Unwittingly Took Part In A Prank And Waved Russian Flags At Trump

"Most people saw Trump's name on the flags and didn't give a second thought to the fact that they were Russian," one of the pranksters told BuzzFeed News.

Last updated on February 24, 2017, at 1:35 p.m. ET

Posted on February 24, 2017, at 11:12 a.m. ET

On Friday morning at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the crowd waved what at first glance appeared to be tiny pro-Trump flags during the president's speech. But something about them

Crowd at CPAC waving these little pro-Trump flags that look exactly like the Russian flag. Staffers quickly come ar…

Oh yeah, because they were RUSSIAN FLAGS.

Someone is passing out Russian flags with TRUMP on them. Protests come in all forms. #Freedom #Merica #CPAC

Flags just distributed at CPac. Russia anyone?

Someone handed out Trump Russian flags on the #CPAC2017 floor before Trump's speech

The actual Russian flag for comparison:

FlagsImporter / Via


A CPAC staffer later came around and confiscated the flags.

Here's the #cpac staffer collecting Russian flags 🇷🇺 that a group was waving in the back during Trump's speech

It was not immediately clear who passed out the flags, or why.

CPAC attendees told Politico's Tim Alberta they had thought the person who gave them the flags was a staffer. "They saw red, white & blue — with 'TRUMP' stamped across it" and "gave no thought to Russian flag," Alberta tweeted.

Update: Three #CPAC attendees tell me someone came around passing out flags as Trump took stage. They thought he was a staffer... 1/2

They saw red, white & blue - with "TRUMP" stamped across it - and started to wave them. Gave no thought to Russian flag, they all said. 2/2

Needless to say, people were confused.

troll-level: hard to tell

brilliant prank, whoever did this!

What mad genius made these?

Were the people waving Russian flags at Trump at CPAC his supporters or his critics?

Two members of the group Americans Take Action, Jason Charter and Ryan Clayton, took responsibility for the prank.

Americans Take Action worked with the Hamilton Electors on the failed strategy to flip the Electoral College for Hillary Clinton and staged several protests at Trump's inauguration.

Clayton told BuzzFeed News he affected a Borat-esque Russian accent while handing out some flags while saying things like "Trump and Putin great leaders, yes?" Here he is with a flag.

Security ejects protestor pretending to be Russian Trump fan. #CPAC2017 delegates saying "get him out of here"

His alter ego goes by the name Ryan Nostrovia.

And here's Charter distributing flags outside after he was escorted from the convention.

Jason Charter

Charter said they arrived with about 1,000 flags and left with none.

"Most people saw Trump's name on the flags and didn't give a second thought to the fact that they were Russian," Charter said. Some attendees did refuse the flags, though.

These Trump supporters were really into the flags, according to Charter, after he handed them out saying "Russia great! America great!" in a fake accent.

Jason Charter

Their goal was to highlight the "clear and present danger" of Trump's ties to Russia and the effects they'll have on his presidency. And also to troll Republicans.

"Putin picked Trump because it's good for Russia, not because he's great for America. We must impeach Trump immediately; he's a traitor to the country that I love," Clayton said.

This is a developing story. Please check back at BuzzFeed News for more.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.