On Friday, 13 Russians and three companies — described by The Washington Post as “a notorious Russian group of Internet trolls” — were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of his investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Tucked away in the indictment is a strange detail that calls to mind a 2016 incident in western Iowa’s Carroll County.
According the indictment, “On or about August 18, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators sent money via interstate wire to another real U.S. person recruited by the ORGANIZATION, using one of their false U.S. personas, to build a cage large enough to hold an actress depicting Clinton in a prison uniform.”
The Russians wanted the cage on a flatbed, so it could be paraded at rallies in Florida. But by the time the trolls were reaching into their bank account, three Iowans had already rolled out a smaller version of the cage float at a July 30 parade celebrating the 100th anniversary of the city of Arcadia’s fire department.
“It was my idea,” Kyle Julin of Manilla, Iowa told The Daily Times Herald, about his prison cage on a two-wheel trailer. “Pretty much me and Josh (Reetz). It took us about a day-and-a-half to build.”
In the cage was another friend, Adam Corky, wearing a Hillary Clinton mask and a prison-style jumpsuit. “Hillary for Prison, 2016,” read a sign on the mini-parade float.
“My consensus from that was 99 percent to 1 percent liked it,” Julin said of the crowd reaction.
Although Justin told the Times Herald he and his friends weren’t associated with any political organization, he also said he wanted to build the cage because, “We believe if Hillary gets in, it’ll be bad for moving our political agenda forward.”
Julin and his friends even came up with a gimmick the Russians don’t appear to have thought of: they passed out water balloons for parade-goers to throw at the caged Clinton impersonator.
The Times Herald described a “young blond boy, no more than 8 years old,” having the “prideful smile of a job well done” after throwing a water balloon at the cage.
The story of the Arcadia parade float went viral during the week after the parade.
The indictment doesn’t reveal if the Iowa parade inspired the Russians, or if Julin and the trolls just think alike.