The National Park Service offered its assistance "in any corrective messaging" to the Trump administration after the agency's Twitter account retweeted pictures showing a smaller crowd size for Trump's inauguration in comparison to the crowd attending former President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.
Trump placed a call to acting NPS Director Mike Reynolds the day after the inauguration, asking the agency to produce additional photos of the inauguration. That weekend the White House had begun insisting that Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20 was the most watched ever, a claim which has been largely disproven.
In a follow-up email, revealed in an email chain released from a FOIA request by E&E News, White House press secretary Sean Spicer had been in contact with an NPS official about securing more photos of the inauguration.
"Acting National Park Service Director Mike Reynolds asked me to reach out regarding the NPS Tweet yesterday about inauguration attendance and see if I can assist in any corrective messaging," NPS communications chief Mike Litterst told Spicer in one email.
"Thanks ... The aerial photos he mentioned would be great," was Spicer's reply.
Further internal correspondence revealed in the FOIA release show NPS officials tracking down various photos showing the crowd on the National Mall at the time of the inauguration. These particular NPS photos show noticeably different angles and sections of the inauguration crowd than those shown in pictures previously released in response to another FOIA request that compared Trump's inauguration crowd size to that of the two inaugurations of his predecessor.
The newly released photos seem to give the impression of fuller, larger crowd sizes, which would help support the Trump White House's assertion that Trump's inauguration had the "largest audience to witness an inauguration, period." Though touting the highest viewing numbers is different than saying the number of people actually attending the event, subsequent estimations including TV and Internet views don't support the claim that it was the largest.