The “plaid shirt guy” who went viral for his facial expressions at President Trump’s Montana rally Thursday said he was asked to leave by the U.S. Secret Service for not being enthusiastic enough.
On Thursday, Tyler Linfesty stood behind Trump, in full view of many cameras, and listened to the President speak on various subjects, including tax reform and the media. However, the high schooler stood out because of his animated facial expressions, that ranged from bewildered to skeptical. He quickly turned into into a meme that earned him the nickname “plaid shirt guy.”
Linfesty told CNN’s Don Lemon that he is actually a Democratic Socialist and that he signed up to go to the rally a week ago with his three friends because he wanted to see the President and hear what he had to say.
“I’m not going to pass up the chance to see the President of the United States,” he told Lemon.
Linfesty told the Billings Gazette that he found out that morning he had been selected to attend the rally and meet Trump. He contacted the Trump campaign and asked to reserve seats for his friends.
He said he and his friends did not have an agenda and had an open mind before attending.
“I didn’t really have a plan,” Linfesty told the Gazette. “I was just going to clap for things I agreed with and not clap for things I didn’t agree with.”
Linfesty told CNN’s Lemon that all of his facial expressions were honest.
“All of those reactions were my actual reactions,” he said. “I would have made those faces if anyone were to say that to me. I was not trying to protest, those were just my actual, honest reactions.”
Linfesty admitted he always wondered whether the enthusiasm of supporters at Trump events was genuine.
“Each time I see one of these rallies I see somebody behind Donald Trump clapping and cheering and being super enthusiastic and I’ve always wondered myself, ‘Are those people being really genuine?'” he told Lemon. “So when I got back there, I knew I was going to be really genuine and give my actual reaction to the things he said. So, when I disagreed with him, you could tell I disagreed, but when I did agree with him I clapped as well.”
Linfesty said he agreed when Trump railed against NAFTA. He also agreed with Trump’s claim that the 2016 Democratic presidential primary was stolen from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
He said he disagreed with Trump on the tax reform law because he believes it benefits the top 1% and not the middle class.
A Gazette reporter saw Trump staffers reviewing a photo of Linfesty and the Democratic Socialist of America emblem he wore before removing Linfesty and his friends, the newspaper reports.
“I saw this woman walking toward me on the left,” Linfesty told the Gazette. “She just said to me, ‘I’m going to replace you.'”
He said prior to attending the rally, he was told he had to be enthusiastic, Linfesty said. Staffers also wanted him to wear a “Make America Great Again” hat, but he refused, he added.
Once he and his two friends were replaced on stage, he said they were escorted by Secret Service into a back room where agents looked at his ID. After 10 minutes, they told him he could leave. He said Secret Service and police treated him respectfully.
“They treated me fine,” he told the Gazette. “They just told me not to come back.”
Linfesty told CNN he still cannot believe his newfound fame.
“It feels unbelievable I can’t comprehend it,” he told CNN’s Lemon. “The last 24 hours have been insane, people at school recognize me as the ‘plaid shirt guy.'”