A government photographer cropped photos to make the crowd size appear larger on Inauguration Day, but only after President Donald Trump personally requested it, the Guardian reported Thursday.
According to newly released documents, obtained by the Guardian via a FOIA request, Trump personally called the acting director of the National Park Service, Michael Reynolds, on the day of his inauguration.
While the records don’t specify what exactly Trump said, after that phone call Reynolds had a conversation with a department communications official, who was left with the “impression that President Trump wanted to see pictures that appeared to depict more spectators in the crowd,” according to the Guardian’s review of documents related to an Interior Department inspector general report. That NPS official, who was not named in the documents, reportedly shared those comments with investigators.
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer — who started his career in the West Wing by lying about the inauguration crowd size during an infamous press conference later that same day — also reportedly was involved in the quest for more favorable photos. According to the documents, Spicer repeatedly called the National Park Service on Jan. 21, 2017 asking for “photographs in which it appeared the inauguration crowd filled the majority of the space in the photograph.”
The photographer, whose name is redacted, told investigators that he felt that he had been instructed to crop the images, though he was not explicitly told to do so. It was unclear whether the images, which cropped out the empty space at the back of the National Mall, were released publicly.
Read the Guardian’s full report here.