President complained to head of National Park Service about inauguration crowds – Sources
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump, angered over a National Park Service retweet comparing his inaugural crowd size to Barack Obama’s in 2009, called the acting director of the National Park Service on Saturday to complain, two sources with knowledge of the call told CNN.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also confirmed the call took place.
Trump called Michael T. Reynolds, acting director of the National Park Service, to express anger over the fact the National Park Service’s official Twitter account retweeted a message that negatively compared the crowd sizes at the two inaugurations.
Sanders said the call proves Trump “is so engaged, he is so involved and when he sees a problem, he takes action to fix it.”
“If he sees an issue, he is going to take action and do something to fix it,” Sanders said.
The Washington Post first reported the conversation between Reynolds and Trump.
After Friday’s retweet began to get attention, a career staffer at the Interior Department — ordered by the Trump administration, according to a source — instructed employees that the “new administration has said that the department and all bureaus are not supposed to tweet this weekend and wait for guidance until Monday.”
The ban was eventually lifted and the National Park Service tweeted an apology for the “mistaken” retweet. The agency also said it stopped all communication out of a concern the account was hacked.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer denied on Wednesday that the communication orders to the National Park Service came from the White House.
“There’s nothing that’s come from the White House, absolutely not,” he said.
Asked for comment, Tom Crosson, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said the agency “does not comment on internal conversations among administration officials.”
Trump, who regularly bragged about his crowd size on the campaign trail, has been consumed by negative comments about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, using a speech at the CIA on Saturday to lambast the media for their inauguration coverage.
“I have a running war with the media,” he said, accusing news organizations of misrepresenting the size of the crowds.
Following his speech, Trump then instructed Spicer to deliver the same message to reporters.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said.
Aerial photos taken during the time of both presidents’ speeches, however, have indicated that Obama’s first inauguration attracted a larger crowd.
Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top White House advisers, told NBC News that Spicer was giving “alternative facts” when he claimed Trump drew the largest inauguration audience. Spicer also stood by the claim at Monday’s White House briefing, arguing he included television and Internet viewers. A CNN review of best available online numbers and television views, however, found that Trump’s inauguration had at least 37.5 million viewers, compared to the 42.9 million who watched Obama’s in 2009.
By Dan Merica, CNN