We keep learning more about Donald Trump’s obsession with the size of his inauguration crowds. The Washington Post reports that Trump pressured the acting National Park Service director:
“In a Saturday phone call, Trump personally ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the National Mall, according to three individuals who have knowledge of the conversation. The president believed that they might prove that the media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average.”
“Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the agency’s account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.”
The Park Service does not release crowd estimates. Experts, however, have estimated that the 2017 turnout was no more than a third the size of Obama’s eight years earlier.
In the days since Trump’s election, the Park Service has become an unlikely protagonist in a battle between the new president and some career government employees.
The trouble began Friday, when the agency’s official Twitter account retweeted two messages that could be perceived as critical of the new administration: the one comparing the relative crowd size for Trump’s inauguration to that of Obama’s 2009 swearing-in, and another that noted policy pages that had been removed from the White House’s website.