The National Park Service on Monday released dozens of official aerial and ground photographs of President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony in January as well as images from former president Barack Obama’s inaugurations in 2009 and 2013.
The photographs, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by BuzzFeed News and other media, clearly show that the number of people who attended Obama’s inaugurations far outstripped the number of people who attended Trump’s swearing-in.
BuzzFeed News’s FOIA request was sparked by statements and tweets by Trump, which falsely claimed that more 1.5 million people attended his inauguration. Trump and White House press secretary Sean Spicer had accused the media of manipulating photographs and depicting them at different angles in order to show that the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration was much smaller than at Obama’s.
At a speech at CIA headquarters a day after he was sworn into office, Trump talked about the attendance at his inauguration.
“I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field,” Trump said. “I'm like, wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people.”
A day after his inauguration, according to The Washington Post, Trump personally called acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds and demanded that he produce photographs of the people who gathered at the National Mall, which the Park Service has jurisdiction over, in an effort to prove the media had lied about the crowd size. The Park Service ceased releasing official crowd estimates more than two decades ago.
At his first White House press conference, Spicer said Trump’s inauguration was the most viewed in history and challenged the media to prove him wrong. The photographs released by the park service would appear to do just that.
Some of the official photographs taken from government helicopters by National Park Service staff. Other pictures show Park Service police officers monitoring protesters and the inauguration attendees. In total, the National Park Service released 43 aerial photos of Trump’s inauguration and 93 photos taken on the ground taken from a wide range of angles. The park service said it expects to release additional photographs of Trump’s inauguration shot by the U.S. Park Police soon.
By comparison, the National Park Service also released photos Monday showing the much larger crowd gathered for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in LA. Recipient: IRE 2016 FOI award; Newseum Institute National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. PGP fingerprint 46DB 0712 284B 8C6E 40FF 7A1B D3CD 5720 694B 16F0.
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