President Donald Trump’s January 2017 inauguration is still making news. A US government photographer has said he intentionally cropped photos from the Trump inauguration event to remove empty spaces and make the audience look larger, according to federal records. He apparently did this after Trump complained to the National Park Service, said the documents released on Friday.
The records are part of an Interior Department Inspector General investigation carried out into the inauguration episode.
The photographer, not named in the report, cropped the pictures to show “there had been more of a crowd” after an NPS communications official informed him that the President “wanted to see pictures that appeared to depict more spectators”, according to the Interior Department records.
The National Park Service had on January 20, 2017, shared a social media post comparing the crowds that attended the inauguration of Trump and that of former President Barack Obama in 2009.
Trump had later claimed footage of the event did not match the size of the crowd he saw from the stage.
His then-press secretary, Sean Spicer, spoke to the media the next day and claimed: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration… Period.”
According to the documents, Trump placed a call Michael Reynolds, the then-acting park service director, on his first full day in office.
Reynolds told the investigators that he spoke with Trump on the morning after the inauguration, and was asked to “provide pictures of the inauguration”, reads the documents.
The request for additional photographs was relayed to at least two park service photographers who had worked at the event, CNN reported.
One of them said he reached his office about 30 minutes after Trump and Reynolds spoke, and that he cropped the photos, including removing “the bottom where the crowd ended”.
It was widely reported that the NPS photos shared on social media had annoyed the President.
While Trump didn’t specifically ask Reynolds to alter the photographs, the communications official said got “the impression” that he wanted them “cropped to show more of the crowd present at the event”, according to the Interior Department records.
The photographer subsequently cropped the photos strategically to show more crowd at the event.
The unearthed records were first obtained by The Guardian via a Freedom of Information Act request.
(With agency inputs)