WASHINGTON (AP) — An internal watchdog has found no wrongdoing by the National Park Service in a dispute over crowd size at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
An unidentified person complained that a senior park service official had instructed employees to alter records related to crowd size for the inauguration. A separate complaint alleged that officials leaked information to the news media about a phone call the day after the inauguration from Trump to Michael Reynolds, the acting park service director.
The Interior Department’s office of inspector general said Tuesday it found no evidence to substantiate either complaint.
Trump has claimed that up to 1.5 million people attended the inauguration at the Capitol and National Mall, but park service photographs refute that notion. Trump called Reynolds Jan. 21 to dispute park service photos that he said underrepresented the crowd size at his inaugural.
The report by the inspector general says a park service official acknowledged asking staff to make sure they did not include crowd-size estimates in any reports on the inauguration, but said she did so in accordance with longstanding agency policy. The park service stopped providing crowd estimates in the mid-1990s after a dispute over crowd size at the so-called Million Man March.
The official denied telling staff to alter or “scrub” any information, the report said.
On the second complaint, the report said Trump asked Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the National Mall, apparently in the belief that they would show a larger crowd size.
The park service sent six photos to the White House, the report said.
The park service released a slew of photos in March in response to news media requests made through the Freedom of Information Act. The agency also released photos from former President Barack Obama’s two inaugurations. The photos show the 2009 Obama inaugural far outstripped the number of people who attended Trump’s inauguration, contrary to Trump’s repeated claims.
A park service spokesman declined to comment on the inspector general’s report.
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