Report: Reston-based Company with Trump Ties Awarded Federal Contract

A Reston-based company with ties to President Donald Trump’s brother was awarded a $33 million federal contract, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

An anonymous rival bidder filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice over the summer alleged that the company, CertiPath, did not disclose “one of the President’s closest living. Relatives stood to benefit financially from the transaction.”

CertiPath, which is owned by a firm with ties to Trump’s younger brother, Robert Trump, was awarded the contract from the U.S. Marshals Service to provide security for federal courthouses and cell blocks.

In a statement to the Post, CertiPath’s founder and president Jeff Bigriny said Robert Trump is “exclusively a passive investor” and does not have a management role.

In a statement published in response to the article, CertiPath wrote the following:

 Aside from the obvious difficulty of trading on someone’s name without disclosing it, CertiPath categorically denies it has ever made any attempt to trade on the Trump name nor has the company made any effort to hide Mr. Robert Trump’s indirect ownership in CertiPath.  Mr. Robert Trump is a minority shareholder as was disclosed on filings by the company with the General Services Administration.  He is not an officer, director, or agent of CertiPath, and took no part in the negotiation or preparation of the successful bid submitted to the United States Marshals Service.  CertiPath has an impeccable operating history and ethical background.  Our abilities and technical expertise are well known and speak for themselves and has no need to trade on anyone’s name other than its own.

The Post reports that while the contract was awarded to CertiPath, no money has been paid out yet because another company, NMR Consulting, filed a protest against the bid with the Government Accountability Office in July. The protest led to a stop work order, according to the Post.

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Hudgins Joins Opposition to Proposed Shelter for Migrant Children

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins voiced disapproval against the Trump administration’s proposed shelter for migrant children in Northern Virginia.

Hudgins joins other Northern Virginia elected officials — including Fairfax County Board Chairwoman Sharon Bulova — who spoke out against the proposal.

“It doesn’t like it its is appropriate and it is certainly not representative of the community we live in,” Hudgins told Reston Now.

Earlier this month, the General Services Administration issued a pre-solicitation notice stating that the government is seeking 110,000 square feet of space for up to 14 years in Arlington, Fairfax Loudoun or Prince William counties.

Hudgins also noted that shelter for unaccompanied children may not meet the needs of the children they house.

“It seems like we should be trying to restore family structure,” Hudgins said.

The proposed shelter could house roughly 440 children.

Virginia currently has shelters for unaccompanied immigrant children in Bistow and Staunton.

File photo

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‘Lighted Letters’ at Kremlin Annex Protests Mark One-Year Anniversary

For the last year, local residents have held up large, lighted letters against the sky in front of the White House as part of the Kremlin Annex protests — a dramatic visual protest that has received national notoriety.

Protests began on July 16 last year when President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Protestors took issue with Trump’s acceptance of Putin’s assertions that he did not interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Activists from Herndon-Reston Indivisible organized and sent teams of volunteers carrying lighted letters with key messages to the White House.  For the first four months of the initiative, protestors held up lighted letters every night. In mid-November, the initiative switched to three days per week. Following its one-year anniversary, letters light up the sky on Saturdays from 7:30-9 p.m.

Herndon-Reston Indivisible is a grassroots advocacy organization that aims to mobilize a progressive network to resist the Trump agenda, according to its website.

Organizers behind the visual protest said they were surprised by the attention received by their advocacy.  The visual appeal of their protest has earned a nod by the Grey Lady, the Washington Post, USA TODAY and Newsweek.

“In effect, they become our voice — and a loud voice at that,” said Nan Dearborn, a co-lead of the lighted letters initiative. “You just can’t miss the message when you have activists holding ‘treason’ or ‘corrupt’ or ‘racist’ in giant lighted letters right in front of the White House.”

The first night, volunteers held up letters spelling “liar” — a visual display that HRI co-founder Heidi Zollo said was “an instant hit.”

Since then, volunteers have made roughly 45 letters to spell out anything at short notice. The leaders of the initiative — Ginny Reed and Dearborn — scan the news and consider the number of volunteers to determine what word to hold up. On a typical night, the word of the night is unveiled when volunteers arrive at the White House.

One of the most memorable nights was when activists gathered for the “Close the Camps” protest. An energized crowd of protestors held up signs in the pouring rain in early July. The lighted letters also travel to other protests, including monthly vigils at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association.

Organizers expect to hold up the lighted letters every Saturday night so long as the Kremlin Annex protests continue.

Photo via Herndon-Reston Indivisible

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Free Panel in Herndon to Tackle Surviving the Government Shutdown

As the partial federal government shutdown nears its 19th day, the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce will host a free panel on Thursday to help companies and workers prepare for a long shutdown.

Certified public accountants, bankers, insurance experts and lawyers will provide advice during the panel from 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport Hotel (13869 Park Center Road) in Herndon on Jan. 10.

The individuals from the financial, legal and insurance industries will talk about the direct and indirect cost of the shutdown, along with how companies can remain solvent and what are the different options for their employees.

They will also give advice on remedies available to government contractors, what to do when this shutdown ends and how to prepare for a future shutdown.

The free panel is intended to help workers and local businesses of all sizes “mitigate the adverse effects the federal government shutdown and be ready to go when this shutdown ends,” Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO John Boylan said in a press release.

“Our region is disproportionately affected by federal government shutdowns, and the impact reaches deep into our community,” Boylan said.

More than 35 percent of Reston Now readers said in a poll on Jan. 3 that the shutdown affects them, with roughly 22 percent indicating they are federal workers.

The partial federal government shutdown started on Dec. 22 after Congress and the White House failed to reach a spending deal. It remains unclear if or when the White House and congressional Democrats could negotiate a deal as President Donald Trump keeps a firm stand for $5 billion to pay for a border wall.

With no immediate end in sight, Trump’s third government shutdown is nearing a record-breaking mark. (The longest government shutdown was 21 days during Bill Clinton’s presidency.)

“Beyond the direct effect felt among our friends and colleagues within the federal government, this shutdown imposes a real burden on many of the businesses in our region, especially contractors and subcontractors who are increasingly pressured each day this shutdown continues,” Boylan said.

Participants are encouraged to register for the event.

Photo via Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce

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Poll: Are You Affected by the Government Shutdown?

The partial federal government shutdown is nearing the two-week mark with no immediate end in sight.

Parts of the federal government shut down on Saturday, Dec. 22, after Congress and the White House failed to reach a spending deal. It remains unclear if or when the White House and congressional Democrats could negotiate a deal as President Donald Trump keeps a firm stand for $5 billion to pay for a border wall.

Yesterday (Jan. 2), Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo closed, joining National Parks around the country, according to news reports. Even though people got very concerned very quickly after the zoo’s beloved live “panda cam” went dark, the pandas and other animals will continue to get fed.

One place not affected by the shutdown — the Newseum — is offering federal workers who show their badge free admission.

Trump’s third government shutdown is impacting locals and visitors in the Washington, D.C.-area from furloughed federal workers to surprised tourists. (The longest government shutdown was 21 days during Bill Clinton’s presidency, in case you were curious.)

Now, on day 13, let us know if your work or D.C. plans have been affected by the shutdown.

File photo

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President Trump Praises Fairfax County Detective Last Friday

President Donald Trump praised two local police officers for helping to dismantle the gang MS-13 during his speech at a conference last Friday.

Trump lauded Fairfax County Police Department Detective Ray Betts, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger and Sgt. Claudio Saa from the Herndon Police Department as “three trailblazing leaders.”

The praise came during remarks Trump made at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference in Kansas City, Mo. last Friday (Dec. 7).

The conference brings together U.S. Attorneys; federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement; community partners; and others to share ideas on violent crime reduction.

Trump’s remarks included the following:

Every American citizen is entitled to a safe community and a secure border. Here in the audience today are three trailblazing leaders — they truly are — who are working to dismantle MS-13 over the past two years. They’ve helped so much. They’ve done such an incredible job. Twenty-nine MS-13 members have been charged and convicted just recently, despite being targeted for retaliation.

These three patriots are U.S. Attorney Zach Terwilliger — where is Zach?  Hello, Zach. Heard great things about you. Herndon Police Sergeant Claudio Saa. Thank you, Claudio. Thank you very much. And Fairfax County Police Detective Ray Betts. Thank you. Thank you. All three, thank you very much.

At the conference, Terwilliger, Betts and Saa joined Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Miller and Rebeca Bellows, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew and Major Roger Russell of the Richmond Police Department in a team presentation on best practices for investigating and dismantling MS-13.

MS-13 started in Los Angeles before heading to Virginia and then making its way to El Salvador.

Betts accounted for more than 100 felony arrests and 30 misdemeanors in a one-year time period two years after he joined the gang investigations unit. He has been to El Salvador to investigate cases and train his Salvadoran counterparts, WTOP reported.

Saa has also traveled to El Salvador, where he explored MS-13’s ties to Virginia, NBC4 reported.

Photo via FCPD/Twitter

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Clad in Neon Yellow, Local Group Joins ‘Kremlin Annex’ Protest for Third Week

In a mix of party and protest, people have gathered for nightly protests outside the White House for three weeks. Acting as the backdrop of the crowd is Herndon-Reston  Indivisible, a community action group that aims to push back against President Donald Trump.

Clad in neon yellow shirts, group members hold brightly lit orange letters spelling out the words “treason,” “puppet” and liar. For the last 23 nights, they’ve gathered at Wiehle-Reston at 6:30 p.m. to join in the protest, called “Kremlin Annex.”

Protests began on July 16 after Trump appeared to agree with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denied interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Kremlin Annex plans to be there as long as Trump is in office.  On average, seven people from the organization join the nightly protest, according to Joanne Collins, a member of Herndon-Reston Indivisible and co-leader of the group’s elections committee.

Collins says the environment is full of energy. Earlier this week, Rosie O’Donnell, an actress and TV personality who has been vocal against Trump, stood alongside Broadway musicians for the protest.

“It’s kind of like a party. It’s led by a young guy and they have bagpipes and have even had a mariachi band,” she said. “It’s been raining a lot and we’ve attended rain and shine.”

Herndon-Reston Indivisible was formed by Heidi Zollo and Carrie Bruns following the 2016 presidential election. The organization rallies on ten issue groups, including topics like the environment, immigration and election activities.

Photos via Herndon-Reston Indivisible

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Reston Student Organizes Lemonade Stand to Support Separated Immigrant Families

It’s no surprise lemonade stands manned by elementary or middle school students pop in the area in the summer. But one lemonade stand in Reston this weekend, operated by Emaan Rawn, 7, was a little different.

The second-grade student at Al-Fatih Academy in Reston raised $505 to help separated immigrant families. The stand is part of a national effort dubbed “Kids Take a Stand,” run through the activist group Lawyer Moms of America. Funds will be used to help reunify families separated at the border following the Trump administration’s since-reversed family separation policy. Although roughly 1,400 children have been reunited with their families, others remain in government custody. 

Rawn was inspired to put up a stand when she saw her mother reading a news story about families separated at the border. Wondering how she would respond and if she would be able to take care of her brother in a similar situation, Rawn explored the idea of sending children toys or video games to the children.

When her mother Mahwish Hamlani heard of the lemonade stand initiative, Rawn was excited about the idea. She set up a stand at the intersection of Autumn Crest Drive and West Ox Road on Saturday from 9-11 a.m.

Hamlani said the experience was humbling for her daughter, who is a third-generation immigrant. 

Her grandparents left their home countries amid political turmoil in pursuit of safety and stability. Her parents availed educational and career opportunities to give Emaan and her brother the financial security that they enjoy. Everyone deserves a chance at the American Dream – regardless of their religion or place of birth.”

Funds from lemonade stand sales will go to Project Corazon. Thus far, the initiative has raised more than $20,000.

Photos by Mahwish Hamlani

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Religious Groups to Host Interfaith ‘Families Belong Together’ Vigil

The United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive) will host an interfaith vigil in support of the national “Families Belong Together” campaign tomorrow. 

A rally is scheduled for Saturday in the District in order demand the reunification of families and the end of family separation in detention.

In Reston, organizers hope Friday’s event will “shine a light of truth and hope.” The event is open to all and is organized by United Christian Parish Reston, Unitarian Universalist Reston, Washington Plaza Baptist, Shoreshim, Unity Fairfax, ADAMS Center, MCC NOVA, and others.

“The vigil is very important as we join together to light candles of hope and resistant to unjust and inhumane policies that separate families [and] put children, immigrants, and asylum seekers into cages,” said James Dean, co-chair of UCP’s justice and peace ministry team.

“Some of us can’t march, but we can gather together as part of this interfaith vigil,” Dean said.

Organizers of the national campaign issued the following description of the event:

The Trump Administration is a threat to the lives and safety of millions of immigrant children. Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have torn babies from their mothers, run over, punched, and sexually abused children and Health and Human Services have lost track of thousands of children and youth in their custody. They are unfit to be in charge of children.

We demand that Trump’s immigration agencies stop the implementation of any policy that separates children and youth from their families and that the Administration enlist qualified social service agencies to ensure the well-being of children who are still in their custody or have gone missing.

Photo via UCP

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Virginia’s Senators, Rep. Connolly Denounce Trump Decision to End DACA Policy

An announcement Tuesday morning from the Trump Administration that it will be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy has elicited spirited response from Virginia’s Democratic delegation in Congress.

DACA, implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012, allows nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants living in the United States to apply for renewable two-year visas. It is available to individuals who arrived in the United States before the year 2007 who were under the age of 16 at the time of arrival and under the age of 31 at the time of implementation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement Tuesday morning on behalf of the Administration. Afterward, both of Virginia’s senators released statements of outrage on their Twitter accounts. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) says the decision is “heartless.”

The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act has been introduced several times in Congress in recent years. The current version was introduced in July by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). It would institute a multi-phase process for qualifying alien minors (so-called “DREAMers”) in the United States that would first grant conditional residency and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), in his statement, said DACA is a “promise” that has allowed children of undocumented immigrants to “realize their full potential.”

In a statement released following Sessions’ remarks, President Donald Trump said DACA has “helped spur a humanitarian crisis — the massive surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America including, in some cases, young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country, such as MS-13.”

The decades-long failure of Washington, D.C. to enforce federal immigration law has had both predictable and tragic consequences: lower wages and higher unemployment for American workers, substantial burdens on local schools and hospitals, the illicit entry of dangerous drugs and criminal cartels, and many billions of dollars a year in costs paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Yet few in Washington expressed any compassion for the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system. Before we ask what is fair to illegal immigrants, we must also ask what is fair to American families, students, taxpayers, and jobseekers.

Trump said existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration. He also said that applications already in the pipeline will still be processed, and so will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration.

“This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out,” the President said. “Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months.”

In his statement on the decision to end the program, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) says it is a “moral outrage” that attacks people who have been “creating jobs, serving in our military [and] teaching our children.”

In Richmond, Gov. Terry McAuliffe also said the decision is “an attack on the fabric of our nation [that] makes us less safe and hurts our economy.”

Trump said that “enforcement priorities [will] remain unchanged, and that he has “advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang.”

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Friday Morning Notes

‘Turn Around, Don’t Drown’ — With heavy rains expected today and Saturday, the possibility of flash flooding exists. County officials are reminding residents that cars should not be driven through flooded roadways. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Police Seek Suspect in Vienna Stabbing — Fairfax County Police have been searching since Thursday morning for the suspect in a stabbing that took place near the Vienna Metro station. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The suspect is a male of unknown race, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a medium build, and a light- to medium-brown complexion. He was wearing a black, hooded shirt pulled over his head. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Deadline for Cardboard Boat Registration Nears — The first Lake Anne Cardboard Boat Regatta is coming up Aug. 12, and the last day to get a boat registered for the event is Tuesday. [Reston Museum]

New Name Coming for J.E.B. Stuart High — By 2019, the Falls Church school named after a Confederate general will have its name changed. The Fairfax County School Board voted last night to make it happen. [NBC Washington]

Connolly: Trump’s Boy Scout Speech Shameful — In a letter to the national president of the Boy Scouts of America, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) says the BSA should denounce the speech President Trump gave recently at the National Scout Jamboree. Connolly says Trump’s politicized rhetoric “directly contradicted the spirit of Scouting and the tenets of Boy Scout Law.” [The Hill]

Synthetic Soccer Field Coming to Great Falls — The $1.3 million project at Great Falls Nike Park (1089 Utterback Store Road) includes the conversion of an existing grass field to a synthetic turf field, a trail, storm drainage facilities, landscaping, field lighting and related improvements. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Hot, Hot, Hot! — Last week was sweltering, and the rest of this week may actually be worse. Weather models predict the possibility of triple-digit temperatures and heat indices as high as 110 through this weekend. [Capital Weather Gang]

Pink Fire Trucks Paying a Visit — The Pink Heals organization will visit the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax) on Friday. Pink Heals partners with the public safety, medical professionals, local businesses and community leaders to bring more support for local citizens by keeping fundraising activities local. [Fairfax Fire and Rescue]

Laughs Take Over at Lake Anne — A recent comedy night at Lake Anne Plaza’s Café Montmarte was deemed a great success. Another is being planned for September. [Reston Connection]

FCPD Officer Put on Leave After Crash — Officer Pshko Siteki did not have his emergency equipment on and was going 68 mph in a 40 mph zone prior to the February crash in Falls Church, which left a private citizen with extensive injuries from which he is still recovering. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Portion of Potomac May Shut Down for Trump — Boaters who enjoy paddling their canoes and kayaks in the Potomac River are facing a new hazard on the water: the closure of a 1.6-mile stretch of the river whenever President Trump visits his golf course in Sterling. [Washingtonian]

Photo courtesy Fairfax Fire and Rescue

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Need for More Athletic Fields Broken Down — In Reston Association’s latest “Reston Today” video dispatch, land-use attorney John McBride talks about the requirement for athletic fields in Reston’s Transit Station Areas. The video shows five potential sites where they could be considered. [Reston Association/YouTube]

Transportation Authority Info Session — The public is encouraged to attend an informational meeting tonight with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, to learn about its Draft TransAction Plan and provide comments. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority]

Another Potomac River Bridge? — The idea to ease traffic in the region has been debated since the 1950s, and the North Capital Region Transportation Planning Board will consider listing the bridge project at its July 19 meeting. [WTOP]

Cancellation of FBI Replacement Decried — Fairfax County was one of three finalists for a new FBI headquarters before plans were scrapped. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay, among others, say the decision to abort the project was driven by President Trump’s conflicts of interest. [Washington Post]

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Del. Ken Plum: Stay With The Paris Climate Agreement

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Among the many actions of the new federal administration in Washington, few have drawn sharper disagreement around the world as has the unfortunate decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Only two nations of the world did not join, with the United States being the first and only to withdraw. The Agreement was difficult to reach and showed real promise to bring nations together to curtail climate change.

The response has been swift and determined among those concerned with climate change as to what can be done to stay the course on dealing with the issue. Recently, I joined with more than 550 legislators from throughout the country, including 11 from Virginia, organized by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL, ncel.net) in sending a letter to the administration indicating our opposition to withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Following is the text of that letter:

We are state legislators representing 45 states with a total population of over 298 million United States citizens and we stand united in opposition to the president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

We are committed to continuing the United States’ leadership in working toward a clean energy economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Now more than ever, in the wake of this short-sighted decision by the Federal Administration, it is important that state and local governments come together to strengthen our resolve to meet our regional goals to reduce carbon pollution and our national goals to achieve the reductions agreed to in Paris in 2015.

We stand with the 292 United States mayors representing more than 60 million Americans, the governors of 12 states with a total population of over 102 million, and 194 countries committed to upholding the ambitious goals adopted in the Paris Agreement. At the same time, we explicitly refuse to stand with President Donald Trump in his repudiation of the agreement.

Climate change is not a conspiracy, a hoax, or a partisan cause. Climate change will not affect just a few low-lying countries and the polar regions. Climate change is real and caused by human activity. People around the world and here in our own country, in our own states, in our own communities have already experienced the impacts and will see significantly increased impacts in the coming decades.

As state legislators, we declare our commitment to work with our legislative colleagues, our governors, and our constituents to ensure that we continue this country’s leadership role to build a 21st Century clean energy economy and that we meet or exceed all of the deliverables in the Paris Agreement. To this end, we will reach out across local, state, and federal borders to work together for our future. These ties will strengthen our economy as we build upon American ingenuity, entrepreneurship, productivity, and scientific and technological know-how to reduce carbon pollution while producing the next generation of clean transportation, clean power and energy-efficient devices and strategies.

With or without the president’s leadership, our country must continue to lead the fight for climate action. Working together across multiple states, we will ensure our great nation does not go backward and meets or exceeds the Paris Agreement.

If you decide to write a letter as well, please feel free to borrow any or all of the text of this letter.

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Connolly Goes Viral With Magazine Cover Mocking Trump

Gerry Connolly is winning so much he’s tired of winning.

That’s according to his own personal cover of Time magazine, which the U.S. congressman’s staff created in response to President Donald Trump’s current scandal.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a slew of fake Time magazine covers featuring the president’s image hang in his golf courses. In response, Connolly tweeted out what may be the most noteworthy reaction yet.

Featuring a full headshot similar to the faux Trump cover, Connolly sprinkled the photo with headlines written in Trump’s linguistic style, such as “FITARA is a legislative smash!” (FITARA is a reform bill for federal information technology).

Jamie Smith, Connolly’s communications director, said that all credit for the tweet goes to the congressman.

“He saw the reports of Trump’s fake Time cover and thought this could be a fun way to highlight the absurdity of it,” Smith said. “We never expected it to go this viral. I guess we will have to hang our cover in our four offices.”

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the post had more than 5,200 retweets and 19,000 likes, with hundreds of replies and notable comments.

“The response has been incredibly positive,” added Smith, but there were a few left unimpressed.

So, what do you think?

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