Cyclist who gave Trump the middle finger: ‘He wasn’t going to hear me through the glass’

Juli Briskman has been hailed as a hero and fired from her job for a spur-of-the moment demonstration that quickly spread around the world

Juli Briskman found flowers on her doorstep on Monday night. Juli: I dont know you and yet I am so proud of you, an accompanying note said. Youre my hero. Truly. Thank you for standing up to this admin. We need more like you. Continue to resist. Were with you all the way. Sally M.

Briskman does not know who Sally M is, but she knows what motivated the message. In the past week, she has received media calls from as far away as Colombia and Sweden as well as her share of hate mail. One told her: I hope you get used to saying, Do you want fries with that?

It is all because of a split-second decision that made Juli Briskman a hero of the resistance and a case study in the wildly unpredictable effects of social media.

It was 3.12pm on Saturday 28 October when Donald Trump, after a round of golf, departed the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, northern Virginia. His motorcade, which included the Guardian and other journalists, overtook a female cyclist wearing a white top and cycling helmet, who responded by raising the middle finger of her left hand.

The fleet of vehicles swept on imperiously on but then slowed for a red light, and the cyclist caught up. She persisted. She flipped the bird a second time before turning right as the motorcade turned left.

A photo of her act of defiance took off on social media. The Washington Post called it the middle-finger salute seen around the world. The late-night TV host Stephen Colbert said: No one has summed up the mood of the country better Long may she wave.

Briskman flips the bird. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The courageous cyclists face was not visible in the photo. However, in the social media age, and with some assistance from the protester herself, her identity did not stay secret for long. Briskman, 50, came clean and told her bosses at Akima, a government contracting firm in Herndon, Virginia. The marketing executive was promptly fired for violating the code of conduct policy even though she was off duty at the time.

The story generated worldwide headlines again and an outpouring of sympathy for Briskman, who clearly struck a chord. I think the point is this resonates because millions of people feel the way that I do, she told the Guardian, looking relaxed in an interview at her home on Tuesday.

I dont know that its all about me. I mean, some people have compared that picture to Tiananmen Square and I think that might be a bit of a reach I wasnt standing in front of three tanks and I wasnt putting a flower in a military guys rifle like that one flower child picture thats fairly famous. But having said that, someone said to me, You dont see it because youre in it. You dont see it but it is that.

Briskman lives with her 15-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son and labrador retriever, Sailor, near the golf club. The pleasant home is adorned with a piano, guitar and panels printed with aphorisms such as All you need is love and Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Perhaps most fittingly, in a downstairs bathroom is a print that states: Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably & never regret anything that made you smile.

She describes herself as more of a runner than a cyclist: she celebrated her 50th birthday by pounding 50km. She has run five marathons and has a personal best of five hours 17 minutes. On a wall are numerous medals from the Ragnar long distance relay: this weekend will be her 13th. The door to the garage is plastered with numbered bibs.

Inside the garage there are stickers on the wall that say Proud Democrat and Im an Obama Democrat. There is also the now celebrated bike: a blue Trek hybrid.

It does not take long in the company of Briskman, who had two spells abroad as a member of the US diplomatic corps, to realise that giving the finger was out of character. Its not something I do a lot, she mused. It was just sort of like, here I am on my bike. Ive got nothing, right? This is pretty much the only thing I had to express my opinion. He wasnt going to hear me through bullet-proof glass So that was pretty much how I could say what I wanted to say, right?

She never saw Trump so had no way of gauging his reaction, but she did observe others in the motorcade. I believe I caught the gaze and locked eyes with one of the Secret Service guys who had a gun. And then I remember seeing the white cars behind the black cars that said Secret Service.

And then, when I came past it a second time, there was a guy looking out with a very round face and grey hair. I dont know who that was but he was looking out and I looked at him and he had no reaction I was a little bit nervous because you dont know what the political persuasion is of the folks that are riding with him.

The motorcade went on its way, however, and Briskman went to bed that night assuming it was the end of the matter. She texted her family about what had happened and one member joked that it was real mature.

But a Guardian pool report and wire photos of the incident were spreading far and wide, generating both hero worship and vilification. Briskman got up late the next morning. A friend of mine texted me She said, Im so proud of you. And she sent me a link.

That led to the local branch of the Indivisible movement. A friend had posted that she knew the identity of the cyclist but would let her identify herself. And so I respond, Yes, that was me, ha ha ha.

Briskman put the photo of her protest up on her Twitter profile. She did the same on her Facebook page, which was private and visible only to users she selected. But she did not identify herself as the woman on the bike. She could merely have been a fan expressing her admiration. I was walking the line, so to speak.

Briskman: I believe I caught the gaze and locked eyes with one of the Secret Service guys who had a gun. Photograph: Liz Lynch for the Guardian

However, there was no holding back the tide. People started tagging me and they started putting it on my Facebook. The Guardian article was posted several times. So yes, I started a snowball on Sunday and then on Monday another employer of mine, a yoga studio, said can you please do me a really big favor and take us off of your Facebook page.

The yoga studio had received threatening emails and bogus bad reviews on its own Facebook page. Briskman knew exposure was inevitable and decided to take the initiative by informing her bosses at Akima, where she had worked for six months. She was quickly dismissed.

They werent brutal, but they were very matter-of-fact and their minds werent going to be changed, she said.

Briskman believes the decision was particularly unfair because, earlier this year, she says, she found an offensive public comment by a senior director at the company in an online discussion about Black Lives Matter. He was ordered to delete it but kept his job. Briskman has been in consultation with the American Civil Liberties Union and a lawyer. No decisions made but well see, she said.

Nevertheless, Briskman says she doesnt regret what she did and is now considering her next move. I think that Ill be able to land on my feet.

She does not rule out a new career in politics; on Tuesday morning she was helping Democratic efforts in the governors race in Virginia. Sympathisers have launched two GoFundMe efforts for her; one has already raised $12,000.

Her view of the Trump presidency is scathing. Horrible, she said. Im embarrassed. Some people have said you should respect the office even if you dont respect the person. Im like: Im sorry, he does not respect the office. If he respected the office and he was serving honorably, despite my political differences, I can respect the office. I respected the office when Bush and Bush and Reagan were in there.

Its politics by Twitter, its policy by Twitter, she said of Trumps penchant for the social media platform. Thats not presidential to me.

Briskman, whose Twitter followers have soared from 24 last month to nearly 15,000 now, reflected on how social media had changed her life. The lesson is you cant stage things for a marketing proposition. You cant plan this to happen. I wasnt trying to get noticed, except by Trump himself.

And she bears no ill will to the media who made her famous. Was I shocked and surprised that I got my picture taken? Was it a little bit of a lesson you could get your picture taken any time? Perhaps. But no, I dont have any anger toward the Guardian or toward Steve Herman [Voice of Americas White House bureau chief] for tweeting it. I know that he was criticised to a certain extent that this shouldnt be part of the record. But its his job, and I dont think he should be criticised for it and I dont think you should be, either.

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Woman who gave Donald Trump the middle finger fired from her job

Juli Briskman, a 50-year-old mother of two, said marketing company bosses called her in and fired her for obscene gesture

A woman whose picture went viral after she raised her middle finger at Donald Trump as his motorcade passed her on her bicycle has been fired from her job.

Juli Briskman was cycling in Virginia last month when she offered the gesture in a gut reaction to Trumps policies, she said.

He was passing by and my blood just started to boil, she told the Huffington Post. Im thinking, Daca recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one third of Puerto Rico has power. Im thinking, hes at the damn golf course again.

I flipped off the motorcade a number of times.

A photographer traveling with the presidential motorcade snapped Briskmans picture and the image quickly spread across news outlets and social media. Many hailed Briskman as a hero, with some saying she should run in the 2020 election. Late-night comedy hosts also picked up the story.

Briskman had been working as a marketing and communications specialist for a Virginia-based federal contractor, Akima, for six months. She thought it best to alert the HR department to the online fuss. Bosses then called her into a meeting, she said.

They said, Were separating from you, Briskman told the Huffington Post. Basically, you cannot have lewd or obscene things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off obscene.

She said the company was displeased she had used the image as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook, and told her it violated social media policy and could hurt the companys reputation as a government contractor.

Briskman said she pointed out that her social media pages do not mention her employer, and that the incident happened on her own time. She also said another employee had written a profane insult about someone on Facebook, but had been allowed to keep his job after deleting the post and being reprimanded.

Virginia, however, has at will employment laws, meaning private-sector employers can fire people for any reason.

Suddenly, the 50-year-old mother of two found herself looking for a new job.

Briskman, who votes Democratic, said she planned to look for a new job with an advocacy group she believes in, such as Planned Parenthood or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After leaving his Virginia golf club and before passing Briskman, Trumps motorcade passed a pedestrian who gave a vigorous thumbs-down gesture. Another woman had been standing outside the entrance to the golf club, holding a sign saying Impeach.

As news of Briskmans firing spread, many social media users asked why she was being penalized for expressing free speech on her own time, under the first amendment to the US constitution.

Akima did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Monday, its website went down. Someone began a crowdfunding page online to raise money for Briskman.

Briskman said she had no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure received. In fact, she said, she was happy to be an image of protest.

In some ways, Im doing better than ever, she said. Im angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.

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Donald Trump releases financial disclosure about his business assets

Documents offer first glimpse into his business empire since inauguration, including detail that new Washington hotel has brought in almost $20m

Donald Trump on Friday released documents that offer the first glimpse into his business empire since he was inaugurated.

Trumps Washington hotel has brought in almost $20m in revenue since it opened last fall. His Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which hes visited seven times as president, pulled in millions of dollars more than was reported in previous filings.

The new details are included in a financial disclosure that Trump voluntarily submitted Friday to the Office of Government Ethics.

When he took office in January, Trump turned over the reins of his global real estate, property management and marketing empire to his two adult sons and a senior executive. But Trump did not divest, instead placing his enormous portfolio of financial assets in a trust controlled by the executive and Donald Trump Jr. The president can take back control of the trust at any time, and hes free to withdraw cash from it as he pleases.

His latest financial disclosure covers January 2016 through this spring.

The documents have added importance because Trump isnt following the long tradition of presidential candidates and office-holding of making public his tax returns. Those returns provide more complete financial information than the financial disclosures, which include mostly broad ranges for income and debts.

The report shows Trump resigned from more than 500 positions, stepping down from many on the day before his inauguration. Trump listed at least $315m in liabilities, about the same as in a report he filed last year.

The president still owes more than $100m to Deutsche Bank and a similar amount to Ladder Capital Finance, a New York-based real estate investment trust.

What is unclear from the disclosure is whether Trump added to his debt in any significant way to help pay for his presidential campaign. Because the ranges required for disclosure under federal ethics laws are so wide Trumps disclosure lists five separate liabilities each at over $50,000,000 it is impossible to tell whether his debt load has changed appreciably.

Some of Trumps businesses appear to be earning more money than they had a year earlier. However, because this filing cover 16 months, it is difficult to make direct comparisons between Trumps financial disclosures from previous years.

Mar-a-Lago, where Trump played host to several foreign dignitaries during his seven weekends there this winter, has improved its finances. Trump listed the resorts income as about $37m, up from the about $30m it had taken in prior to his May 2016 financial report.

Donald Trump Chinese president Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump International Hotel, housed in the Old Post Office building down the street from the White House, has seen a burst of activity since opening its doors last fall. In addition to serving as a hub during the inauguration festivities, it has hosted numerous events for foreign diplomatic and business interests.

The hotel is cited in three separate lawsuits arguing that Trump is violating the Constitutions emoluments clause, a ban on foreign gifts and payments. Trump and the justice department have called those claims baseless.

Some of Trumps businesses saw a decline in income, including the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Florida and Trump Turnberry, a golf club in Scotland where Trump was met with protests when he visited in June 2016. Income from the Scottish resort fell by $3.7m.

The president continues to earn money from his days as an entertainer, including nearly $11m from the Miss Universe pageant and $84,292 from a Screen Actors Guild pension.

Trumps literary efforts also continue to pay dividends. Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, Trumps 2015 campaign diatribe, earned at least $1m in royalties, while his 1987 memoir The Art of the Deal brought in at least $100,000.

Another book the commander-in-chief might want to revisit, 1990s Trump: Surviving at the Top, however, was less successful. According to the filing, it brought in less than $201.

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Cybersecurity firm fails to find links between Donald Trump and Russian bank

Investigators hired by Alfa Bank say server logs show no sign of secretive contact after online report sparks debate between internet security experts

A US cybersecurity firm hired by a Russian bank to investigate allegations of a secret line of communication with the Trump Organization said on Tuesday there was no evidence so far of substantive contact, email or financial links.

Mandiant, which is owned by the California-based company FireEye, said it examined internet server logs presented to the bank by media organisations investigating the link.

The online magazine Slate published a story on Monday about communication between a server hosting Trump domain addresses and a server owned by the Moscow-based Alfa Bank, owned by two oligarchs, Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven. Aven worked with Vladimir Putin in city government in St Petersburg in the early 1990s.

The Slate story, quoting a range of cybersecurity experts, said the communication between the servers suggested it was human rather than robotic, and that it was intended to be secret and exclusive.

In a statement, FireEye said it had been presented with a log of the communication between the servers over a period of 90 days, listing the separate contacts.

The information presented is inconclusive and is not evidence of substantive contact or a direct email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump campaign or Organization, the statement said. The list presented does not contain enough information to show that there has been any actual activity opposed to simple DNS lookups, which can come from a variety of sources including anti-spam and other security software.

The statement continued: As part of the ongoing investigation, Alfa Bank has opened its IT systems to Mandiant, which has investigated both remotely and on the ground in Moscow. We are continuing our investigation. Nothing we have or have found alters our view as described above that there isnt evidence of substantive contact or a direct email or financial link between Alfa Bank and the Trump campaign or Organization.

The allegations have triggered debate among security experts in the US, in the midst of a fierce political row over the role of the FBI. Democrats have decried the decision of the FBI director, James Comey, to notify Congress of the discovery of new emails relevant to its inquiry into Hillary Clintons use of a private server while secretary of state, without making public parallel investigations into Trumps ties to Russia.

Computer scientists quoted in the Slate story said that the Trump server had a capacity for mass email but was only being used for a small amount of traffic, nearly 90% of which was with servers from a single organisation, Alfa Bank.

The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion. The operative word is secretive. This is more akin to what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project, said Paul Vixie, a software expert and one of the creators of the domain name system (DNS) that guides communication on the internet.

Robert Graham, a cybersecurity expert and head of Errata Security, dismissed the claims as nonsense. He said the domain in question,, was actually controlled by Cendyn, a company that handles marketing for hotels, including Trumps hotels.

Graham also argued that there was no sign of human communication between the servers, which appeared to be looking up each others IP (internet protocol) addresses, the first step towards establishing communication. The logs show that two Alfa Bank servers sent a total of more than 2,700 lookup requests to the Trump email server.

The requests are spread out evenly throughout the day, with no correlation to time zones, Graham said in an email. This would indicate automated tools looking up incoming spam addresses, not humans sending email. If it were sign of human activity, we would see spikes around 9am when people got to work and 1pm when they got back from lunch.

John Bambenek, a consultant with Fidelis Cybersecurity, who has also studied the logs, said there were unanswered questions about their provenance and authenticity.

The identity of the person bringing the data can be more important than the data, Bambenek said. Im suspicious of the claims that this was gathered legally. They tell an interesting story, but its not clear whether there is selection or filter applied I smell smoke. I just dont know where the smoke is coming from.

L Jean Camp, a professor of informatics at Indiana University, said there were still a lot of unanswered questions about the communication between the servers.

It doesnt act like a marketing server. Because you wouldnt use a heavy-duty mailer with over 80% of its communication with just one organisation, Camp said. I dont know of any marketing campaign that would do that.

According to Slate, the Trump email domain was hastily reconfigured after a New York Times reporter approached Alfa Bank about the connection in September. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the FBI had spent weeks looking into the Alfa-Trump logs but concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.

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‘He convinced none of us’: Bernie Sanders diehards react to convention speech

The Vermont senator was met with applause for three minutes at Democratic convention, but many found his official endorsement of Clinton disappointing

For three minutes, Bernie Sanders stood at the podium and waved to the thousands of Democrats chanting and screaming his name above deafening applause.

A chorus of We want Bernie rang out from Californias raucous Sanders delegation in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. One woman wore a piece of tape over her mouth with the word silenced scrawled across her lips. Another held a sign that read: Not Hillary. Not Trump.

Standing on the stage to endorse his former rival Hillary Clinton, against whom he mounted an unexpectedly serious challenge, Sanders endured sporadic boos from his most ardent supporters when he asked for their support in putting the former secretary of state in the White House.

Theres a long way to go before November, said Cullen Tiernan, a Sanders delegate from California. Shell have to make some concrete commitments instead of the platitudes and fluff that weve been getting all day long.

Tiernan said he did not hold it against Sanders that the Vermont senator had now pledged his support to Clinton and would always be grateful to Sanders for breathing life into the progressive movement.

I want to run for public office because of Bernie, he said.

Several stadium seats away, Amy Erb and Luci Riley, members of the National Nurses United and California delegates for Sanders, watched the speech with pained expressions. At one point, Riley wiped tears from her eyes as she listened to Sanders applaud Clinton.

It was obviously disappointing, Erb said of Sanders speech, but this movement was beginning and brewing long before Bernie became a candidate, and it will continue after him.

Away from the hall, Sarah Hernandez, a 22-year-old marketing officer from Houston, Texas, live-streamed the speech from a campsite in New Jersey. A Sanders supporter, she had taken part in anti-Clinton demonstrations on Monday, which included an action outside Philadelphias city hall at which she and others chanted lock her up, a Republican chant aimed at Clinton.

Its not what a lot of us wanted to hear, she said of Sanders speech. We wanted to hear him lay down the law, saying: This election was rigged from the start, and how if you compare the polls of him versus Trump compared to Hillary against Trump, he wins.

Hernandez and four others from Texas had huddled around a cellphone to watch Sanders speak. It seemed the leftwing firebrands efforts to transfer his support to Clinton had fallen on deaf ears, with this group at least.

From the quick poll of the people Im with, he convinced none of us, she said.

Were all from a red state so the state is going to go for Trump anyway. So in order to make our voices heard we will be voting for Jill Stein, she said, referring to the Green party candidate.

Hernandez did concede that if she lived in a swing state I would vote for Hillary Clinton. But that would be hard.

I respect the decision to endorse Hillary Clinton, but I am definitely not any more for Hillary than I was before his speech, she said. Hernandez was unhappy with some of the measures Sanders had suggested Clinton would back.

Hillary has not supported a $15 minimum wage, so how can we trust her to implement this policy? she said.

Another example was the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal], and Hillary, who once called the TPP the gold standard of deals, did recently come out against it, she said, but she added that opposition to the trade deal had not made it into the Democratic platform.

Niko Klein, 33, had taken part on a march on the DNC on Monday. He has been a firm Sanders supporter but said the Vermont senator was bending reality in favor of what he feels is the most responsible course.

I think he is all about the right end, Klein said. But this is the moment in which he shows that hes willing to compromise his means and I think thats troubling.

Klein said that in endorsing Clinton, Sanders had shown he is essentially willing to accept corruption.

It doesnt mean we wont follow him in his other endeavors, Klein said.

But in this individual calculus around supporting Clinton and not agitating within the Democratic convention further, I think hes lost a lot of momentum.

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