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A ‘fact-check’ by USA Today claimed that the 2020 Trump campaign was using Nazi symbolism in a t-shirt design, only to walk back the claim in a clumsy manner.
“The claim: Trump campaign shirts feature imperial eagle, a Nazi symbol. Our ruling: True,” the outlet said in a tweet highlighting the story.
The claim: Trump campaign shirts feature imperial eagle, a Nazi symbol
Our ruling: True https://t.co/3eCiYdgQvK
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) July 12, 2020
“President Donald Trump’s campaign website recently unveiled a T-shirt that has come under fire because of design similarities between its logo and a Nazi symbol,” the article states.
“The similarity was first noticed, according to Forward, by two Twitter accounts, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, described as a Jewish progressive group, and the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group formed by Republicans,” it adds.
“The President of the United States is campaigning for reelection with a Nazi symbol. Again,” said a tweet from Bend the Arc July 1.
The President of the United States is campaigning for reelection with a Nazi symbol. Again.
On the left: an official Trump/Pence “America First” tee.
On the right; the Iron Eagle, the official symbol of the Nazi party.
⁰It’s not an accident. Bigotry is their entire brand. pic.twitter.com/mSOBxwf7Wa
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) July 1, 2020
USA Today added that a number of Facebook users said the same thing. “Trump is now selling straight up nazi propaganda shirts,” one read.
After the article was published, USA Today issued a “clarification” of sorts though it was far from complete.
“Clarification: The claim that Trump 2020 has put out a T-shirt with a symbol similar to a Nazi eagle and is being criticized for it is true. Worth noting, the eagle is a longtime US symbol, too,” the tweet said.
In addition to the fact that the Bald Eagle is the country’s ‘official’ national bird, it is also used throughout the government and the military.
For example, the Great Seal of America — developed in 1782 — features a right-gazing eagle whose talons are clutching arrows and an olive branch, signifying strength as well as a desire for peace.
“Only one authorized Great Seal is in official use and is operated by the U.S. Department of State. The Great Seal is impressed upon official documents such as treaties and commissions. The Department of State affixes about 3,000 seals to official documents yearly,” says the U.S. State Department, on its website.
The Office of the President actually incorporates an eagle, as do many Cabinet-level departments, as their primary design.
The White House website notes that the presidential seal “includes the president’s coat of arms, an eagle on the great seal, a ring of stars and the words, Seal of the President of the United States.”
It is believed to have originated “with the seal used by the President of the Continental Congress, a small oval with a constellation of 13 stars surrounded by clouds. It was used to seal envelopes containing correspondence sent to the Continental Congress.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s seal also features an eagle.
But Nancy’s good, right? pic.twitter.com/340sKx4GyK
— Me Chomper (@chmpr) July 12, 2020
Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s spokesman, brought up the fact that the U.S. Marine Corps’ emblem features an eagle as well.
“This is moronic. In Democrats’ America, Mount Rushmore glorifies white supremacy and the bald eagle with an American flag is a Nazi symbol. They have lost their minds. Better tell the USMC too,” he wrote.
This is moronic.
In Democrats’ America, Mount Rushmore glorifies white supremacy and the bald eagle with an American flag is a Nazi symbol.
They have lost their minds.
Better tell the USMC too. pic.twitter.com/mzX4sMHDiY
— Tim Murtaugh – Download the Trump 2020 app today! (@TimMurtaugh) July 12, 2020
As for Nazi Germany, yes, it, too, incorporated the eagle as a government symbol. It came from the German Coat of Arms.
“A regulation issued in 1936 defined a swastika framed by a wreath of oak leaves, topped by an open-winged and right-facing eagle, as the sovereign symbol of the Reich,” the German parliament website states.
The Trump “America First” tee features a left-facing eagle with wings stretched over an American flag within a round emblem. The USA Today article features a man wearing one of the tees alongside a period photo of Adolph Hitler speaking beneath a similar-looking Nazi statue, though there are definite differences.
That said, it’s difficult to fathom how even the president’s most vociferous critics could believe his campaign would purposely incorporate any Nazi symbology.