President Trump Called the Park Service Looking for Photos Backing His Inauguration Claims
On his first full day in office, President Donald Trump called the acting director of the National Park Service to dispute widely circulated photos of Trump’s inauguration.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump personally ordered park service head Michael Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the National Mall. The president believed that the photos might prove that the news media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average, the newspaper said.
The Post reported that Reynolds forwarded additional photos to the White House as requested.
Photos taken that day made clear that crowds didn’t extend to the Lincoln Memorial as Trump later asserted and that his claim of 1 million to 1.5 million people in attendance was wrong.
A spokesman for the park service confirmed the call Thursday but declined to reveal details of the conversation. Asked about Trump’s call, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “President Trump is someone who takes action and gets things done — this is one of the reasons he won and Hillary didn’t.”
Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the park service’s account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the Post reported.
The call from Trump came after the Interior Department briefly suspended park service accounts and others run by the department in response to the retweeted photos and another tweet that pointed out that webpages about some issues, including climate change, had been removed from the White House site.
The Interior Department accounts were reactivated the next day.
Park service employees launched a Twitter campaign against Trump this week. After three climate-science tweets by Badlands National Park were deleted, several other parks posted tweets related to climate change in an apparent show of solidarity and defiance.
Trump has called climate change a hoax, and many readers saw the climate-related tweets as a message of defiance to the new president.
Tom Crosson, the chief spokesman for the park service, declined to comment on any of the tweets sent out by park service accounts, but he said there is no restriction on agency use of Twitter or other social media.
“There’s no gag order on national parks that would prevent people from tweeting,” he said Wednesday.
Trump used his Twitter account during the campaign to bash opponents and share his messages directly to his supporters. But government policy indicates that any agency must agree with the contents of whatever it shares on social media.