The National Park Serviceon Monday released dozens of photos that may lay to rest this very pressing question: Whose inauguration was bigger?
Official photos from former President Barack Obama's inaugurations in 2009 and 2013, and President Trump's earlier this year, clearly depict larger crowds of people attending Obama's swearing-in ceremonies than those of the current president's.
Several media outlets filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) following Trump's statement after the inauguration that he saw "a million, million and a half people," contradicting a news report he watched that showed "an empty field."
The National Park Service stopped conducting crowd estimates in 1995, but local and federal agencies estimate Obama drew 1.8 million to the National Mall in 2009. Ahead of Trump's inauguration, planners and security forces estimated no more than 900,000 to attend the celebration on Jan. 20.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, after Trump's inauguration, blasted the media for its "dishonesty" on the crowds.
"Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall," Spicer said.
"We know that from the platform where the president was sworn in, to Fourth Street, it holds about 250,000 people. From Fourth Street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people. All of this space was full when the president took the oath of office. We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe."
And on the morning after his inauguration, Trump contacted the National Park Service's acting director to produce photos of the inaugural crowds to prove the media wrong.
But the National Park Service's photos, some of which depict aerial views from government helicopters, and others of protest crowds and inauguration attendees, contradict the White House's claims that Trump's crowd beat out Obama's.