The documents – which detail an internal investigation by the inspector general of the U.S. interior department and obtained by the British newspaper during a freedom of information request – show a back-and-forth between Trump officials and an unnamed photographer after Trump’s assertion that over a million people attended his inauguration at the national mall in Washington, D.C., on Jan 20, 2017.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe,” then-press secretary Sean Spicer said at the time – which was proven to be untrue.
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Pictures soon started circulating online comparing the crowd at former president Barack Obama’s inauguration to Trump’s, showing there were more people at Obama’s.
But according to documents, officials scrambled to find pictures that proved their statement, the Guardian reports.
The documents show that acting NPS director Michael Reynolds spoke with Trump and then asked a communications officer to find different pictures of the event.
While there was no directive to edit photos, the unnamed official said she “got the impression that President Trump wanted to see pictures that appeared to depict more spectators in the crowd.”
The documents noted that the official “assumed” the pictures needed to be cropped. She then contacted the NPS photographer.
A second official told investigators Spicer called her to ask for photos that “accurately represented the inauguration crowd size.” She also took that to mean “photographs in which it appeared the inauguration crowd filled the majority of the space in the photograph” and contacted the NPS photographer.
The photographer, who is also unnamed, said he was asked by communications officials to “edit a few more” photos for a second submission.
The documents show he edited the photos by cropping out the sky and the bottom of the photo “where the crowd ended.”
Investigators reported in the documents that “He said he did so to show that there had been more of a crowd.”
It’s unclear whether the cropped photos were used by NPS officials.
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