A cheeky protester spoiled Steve Bannon’s breezy dismissal of federal charges against him Monday with a large sign widely seen on national media reading: “Coup Plotter.”
Activist Bill Christeson squeezed into a window of space with his sign just behind the former Donald Trump aide and in front of cameras.
It was easily readable during Bannon’s rant as he was about to surrender to the FBI field office in the District of Columbia after being indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress. He was hit with the charges last week after blowing off a subpoena to appear before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
CNN’s Jim Acosta noted the sign in a photo he tweeted of Bannon.
He also made Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program.
Particularly notable was that Christeson’s sign even made the video taken for Bannon’s own “War Room” podcast. Bannon, who had been a Trump 2016 campaign executive and later a White House strategist, vowed: “We’re taking down the Biden regime” and dismissed the charges against him as “noise.” He then saluted, oblivious that the words “Coup Plotter” were looming over his right shoulder.
It’s only the latest sign protest pulled off by Christeson.
He has been photographed behind former President Donald Trump’s short-time campaign manager and felon, Paul Manafort, with a sign that said “Traitor”; long-time Trump ally and felon Roger Stone (“Dirty Traitor”); and former Trump national security adviser and felon Michael Flynn (“Putin’s Puppet?”).
He has also haunted Manafort’s campaign partner Rick Gates (“Blood Money”); campaign adviser George Papadopoulos (“Team Putin”), who admitted lying to the FBI; and Trump confidant and investor Thomas Barrack (“Traitor”), who was charged with illegally lobbying the former president on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it, Christeson, 67, told HuffPost. It’s harder than the casual observer may realize.
“It’s tricky. You have to figure out where they’re going to be — what entrance they’re going in,” Christeson explained. “You have to position yourself where the sign can easily be read next to them — and where the media can photograph it.”
The only real trouble he’s experienced so far is a “guy who looked like one of the Proud Boys with Roger Stone, who crouched down and drove his shoulder — hard — into my ribs — twice,” recalled Christeson.
He tries to chose one or two words for his signs to hammer home a simple message. “People can’t get your message if they can’t see your message,” he noted.
“I think of it as a kind of branding,” added the activist, who is retired after a career working for social service and international human rights organizations. He asked that the location of his home not be revealed for safety reasons.
He’s is referred to on Twitter as the “sign guy” and often as “Alt Santa” for his snow-white hair and beard. Many, however, know his identity and tweeted out congratulations on Twitter.
One fan said he “whooped” Monday when he saw Christeson on NBC. “You helped us get through the four years and it’s lovely to have you still there stoking morale,” he tweeted.