National Park Service (NPS) officials didn’t alter estimates of the crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration, according to the results of a months-long investigation.
The report, released Monday by the Inspector General for the Department of the Interior, addressed the controversy that consumed the early days of Trump’s presidency.
The investigation began in February, when the Inspector General received a complaint alleging that a National Mall and Memorial Parks official had instructed NPS employees to alter records of crowd-size estimates. The agency also investigated claims that NPS public affairs employees had released unauthorized information to the press about a phone call between Trump and Acting NPS Director Michael Reynolds.
“We did not find evidence to substantiate any of these allegations,” the report said. “All of the witnesses we interviewed denied that the NAMA official instructed staff to alter records for the inauguration or to remove crowd size information. We also found no evidence that the public affairs employees released any information to the media about the President’s phone call.”
The tension began on Inauguration Day, when the National Park Service retweeted a post comparing the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration to the larger crowd at former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. The tweet was later removed, and the U.S. Department of Interior was temporarily ordered to suspend operations of its Twitter accounts.
In the days that followed, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer falsely said Trump’s crowd was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” and the Washington Post reported that Trump personally called Reynolds and ordered him to produce additional photos of the crowd size.
A more recent report by CBS News, which cited National Park Service emails, found that Trump was “directly involved” in the search for the person who retweeted the side-by-side comparison.