Donald Trump personally called the National Park Service director about those Inauguration photos

The President ordered Mr Reynolds to send over more photos so the President could prove the media was lying about attendance 

Rachael Revesz
New York
Friday 27 January 2017 03:04 GMT
There were many serious issues at hand. But Mr Trump was bothered about crowd size
There were many serious issues at hand. But Mr Trump was bothered about crowd size (Picture: Ron Sachs - Pool/Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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The photos comparing Donald Trump’s Inauguration with former President Barack Obama’s were seen by a lot of people, including Mr Trump himself.

On President Trump's first morning in office, the suggestion that less people attended his big ceremony than his predecessor aggravated him so much that he asked his staff to get the National Park Service director, the agency responsible for the Mall in Washington DC, to call him.

Deputy director of operations Michael Reynolds, who has three decades of experience working in federal government, called the number and was asked to hold for the President, as reported by the Washington Post.

Mr Trump was irked by the National Park Service having tweeted comparative photos of his and Mr Obama’s crowd sizes.

The NPS does not provide official estimates of crowd numbers, so Mr Trump asked Mr Reynolds to send over more photos from the event and help him prove the media were being "dishonest" after all.

Mr Reynolds sent over pictures. They did not help Mr Trump’s case.

The NPS could not be immediately reached by The Independent.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed to CNN that Mr Trump made the call.

“If he sees an issue, he is going to take action and do something to fix it,” Ms Sanders said.

After the NPS tweeted those pictures, the Interior Department informed employees, as instructed by the Trump team, to not tweet until Monday. A “media blackout” ensued, with bans on social media and blog updates. Press secretary Sean Spicer denied any such request had come from the White House.

The incident led to Mr Spicer reading out a very terse statement about the reporting of crowd sizes that day, attacking the media and insisting that the crowd size was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period."

Mr Spicer walked out without taking any questions.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer threatens media, vowing to 'hold to account' 'dishonest' reporting

Although he returned the next day, determined to be more jovial with the press, the issue of crowd size was carried on by Mr Trump at the CIA, when he was supposed to be commemorating those who had died serving their country.

“I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I say, wait a minute, I made a speech,” he told around 400 CIA employees.

“I looked out, the field was — it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.”

Experts have estimated the crowd size was only around 800,000 people.

The issue was also addressed by his senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who said during television interviews on Sunday morning that the government “might have to rethink its relationship” with the press.

Mr Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon told the New York Times this week in a rare interview that the media had been “humiliated” by the President’s surprising win and should “keep its mouth shut”.

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