WASHINGTON — The National Park Service released a series of aerial and ground shots that show the crowd sizes during the last three presidential inaugurations in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from various media outlets.
The images show the crowd sizes of President Barack Obama’s 2009 and 2013 inaugurations, as well as President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The turnout represented in the photos for Trump’s inauguration was smaller than that of his predecessor. The Park Service did not indicate the precise times that the photos were taken.
“The NPS does not have a position or comment about the photos,” NPS spokesman Tom Crosson said Tuesday.
The Trump administration previously asked the Interior Department’s digital team in January to temporarily stop using Twitter after the National Park Service retweeted messages that negatively compared the crowd sizes at Obama’s 2009 inauguration to Trump’s inauguration.
But Crosson denied the White House was involved, saying the agency’s Twitter activity was halted because of “unauthorized tweets.”
“The NPS halted Twitter activity for just over 12 hours that day because we thought our national Twitter account was compromised based on unauthorized tweets posted by our account,” Crosson said.
“Once we determined the source of the unauthorized tweets, all Twitter activity in the NPS resumed. We have received no guidance from the administration relating to our social media accounts.”
The retweet of early crowd size comparisons has since been deleted.
Later, NPS apologized for the post, tweeting, “We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you.”
This issue of crowd size has been a point of contention for the Trump White House, which has repeatedly accused the media of understating the president’s inauguration crowd sizes.
On day two of his presidency, Trump lashed out at the news media over the size of his inauguration crowd during a visit to the CIA headquarters and after massive nationwide protests erupted against his administration, most notably the Women’s March on Jan. 21.
“We had a massive field of people. You saw that — packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. I said wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out the field was, it looked like a million, a million and half people, they showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there,” Trump said.
From Trump’s point of view as he gave his inaugural address, the crowd undoubtedly appeared quite large, but the newly released photos dispute the President’s claim that the crowd stretched “all the way back to the Washington monument.”