President Donald Trump was “directly involved” in the hunt for whoever retweeted a comparison of the crowds at his and President Barack Obama’s inaugurations to the National Park Service’s official Twitter account, according to internal emails.
Trump was “concerned” about the post, according to an email obtained by CBS through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Obviously, this has become a very sensitive issue, especially since the President has gotten directly involved and contacted Acting Director Mike Reynolds concerned about one of the images that was retweeted,” the agency’s digital strategy chief Tim Cash wrote on Jan. 21 in an email to National Park Service chief information security officer Shaun Cavanaugh.
CBS also obtained a memo indicating the agency “suspected that this incident was an accidental cross-posting from a personal Twitter account,” a mishap which it said “has happened on multiple occasions in the past with other NPS social media accounts.”
The National Park Service apologized a day after Trump’s inauguration in January for retweeting an unflattering photograph comparing Trump’s crowd size to Obama’s in 2009.
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 20, 2017
We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you pic.twitter.com/mctNNvlrmv
— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) January 21, 2017
According to the Washington Post, the National Park Service then received orders to “shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice.” It was not clear who issued those instructions.
Less than a week later, the Washington Post reported that Trump personally called the agency’s acting director Michael T. Reynolds to berate him over the retweet and ordered Reynolds to produce additional photographs of his inauguration to prove his claims about attendance numbers.
At that point, Trump and his staff — apparently taking the post very seriously — had relitigated the subject at least eight times in five days.