Former top Clinton aide kept President Trump awake with a protest as he came back from Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin

By Emily Davies
July 17, 2018 06:38 PM

Six hundred people, 50 bullhorns, pots, pans and a collection of whistles welcomed President Donald Trump home to the White House as he touched down from his tumultuous trip to Helsinki. The ear-popping homecoming party was designed to keep the jet-lagged president awake—a last-minute protest pulled together with a single Tweet from a former top advisor to Hillary Clinton.

“If someone flew home from Helsinki they’d get back to DC around 9pm. You know what I’d hate if I just got back & needed sleep? A bunch of people outside my home with bullhorns & air horns,” Philippe Reines, former advisor to Hillary Clinton, Tweeted at 3 p.m. Monday. “I’ve never started a protest. How does one do that @MoveOn?”

“I think you just did, homie!” one user responded.

With a series of Tweets to known Trump critics and other social media savvy activists, #OccupyLafayettePark took shape.

By 9 p.m., Republicans and Democrats alike had swung by Pennsylvania Avenue—after dinner, drinks, or their late nights at work—and grabbed whistles and earplugs from a bucket. Shouts of “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, 45 Has Got To Go!” and “Traitor! Traitor!” reverberated as Marine One touched down on the White House lawn, delivering Trump home again after his controversial week overseas—first at a confrontational NATO summit with America’s allies, then to awkward meetings in the U.K. and, finally, in Finland, where he held a widely denounced summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Credit: Courtesy Philippe Reines and Ian Mellul

Reines was ready for Trump’s arrival, tweeting: “Hey @realDonaldTrump I’m the guy outside your window blaring this at your window. I’m gonna wait I a bit to let you start dozing off. Then the air horns come out. I’ve got two canisters. That’s 24 1-second bursts or 8 3-second bursts. Any preference?”

Credit: Courtesy Philippe Reines and Ian Mellul

Reines, who tells PEOPLE that Monday night was only his second mass-protest outing (he participated in the March For Our Lives organized by school-shooting survivors earlier this year), recognized an opportunity for unity as Trump and Putin appeared chummy in Helsinki.

“Donald Trump wakes up every day and not only does he not care for half of the country, he only cares for 35 percent,” Reines said in an interview Tuesday. “Something like yesterday brings the 65 percent together.”

According to Adam Parkhomenko, political advisor to Hillary Clinton and one of the first Twitter users to publicize the event, “quite a few Republicans” took to the streets around the White House on Monday night.

“A few of them described themselves as ‘socially liberal and fiscally conservative,’” Parkhomenko told PEOPLE. “They basically said we agree on a ton of stuff and I have a business background. However, enough is enough.”

No Trump supporters appeared to attend as counter-protestors, Reines said.

Credit: Courtesy Philippe Reines and Ian Mellul

A few idling tourists decided to stick around—eventually picking up protest signs themselves outside of the White House, Parkhomenko said.

“I really think the protest is a vehicle for people to come and show they want to lift up America,” Parkhomenko remarked. “They are tired of people lifting up Russia and pouring America down. It’s a way for them to show their opposition to this President.”

Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) also showed up, which was “great, especially with such short notice,” Reines said.

Neither Reines or Parkhomenko, who are both in touch with Hillary Clinton, have spoken to the former presidential candidate about #OccupyLafeyettePark. But they are confident she approves.

“Have you seen her Tweets?” Reines said.

Secret Service monitored the protest, moving the crowd back as Marine One landed. The security officers were respectful of protestors, Reines said, explaining every move and allowing the crowd to move forward again once the president entered the White House.

On Twitter, Reines, who extensively researched Trump to play him in Clinton’s mock rehearsals for the 2016 presidential debates, praised the Secret Service for being “helpful” and generally marveled: “WOW We. Were. Loud. No way the traitor didn’t try to drown us out with pillows. We are in his head.”

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The success of the last-minute protest, which carried on until 11 p.m. Monday, inspired #OccupyLafayettePark Day Two.

“Let’s do it again and let’s get a little bigger,” Reines said.

The Tuesday protest, which will feature an appearance by Stormy Daniels‘ attorney Michael Avenatti among others, will begin at 7 p.m. at Lafayette Park.

“I hope it brings renewed focus and significant attention on the need for the American people to know why President Trump is abandoning this nation in favor of Vladimir Putin,” Avenatti told PEOPLE, adding that he hopes the protest will draw well over 1,000 people.

Armed with Twitter and a bullhorn, Reines says Night 2 will see him stepping up his game to “protest treason”—if all goes as planned. (The verdict is still out on the wisdom of giving his credit-card information to “some kid from the Hill” to purchase a podium and microphone for Tuesday night.)

With Washington’s rain cleared out, Reines announced in a Tweet Tuesday afternoon that it’s all systems go: “Turn up the heat on the squatter occupying our White House. (see what I did there? weather…heat) #OccupyLafayettePark.”