Investigative Group

No, Inauguration Crowd Estimates Were Not Scrubbed From Federal Report

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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A National Park Service (NPS) employee did not order colleagues to “scrub” or alter inauguration crowd estimates in an official report, according to a government watchdog.

“We found no evidence to substantiate the allegation that the … official asked staff to alter crowd size information,” the Department of the Interior Inspector General (IG) reported Monday. The official did order employees to exclude crowd estimates from an official report, which the IG ruled as consistent with NPS practice. (RELATED: Sean Spicer Rips The Media For Lying About Crowd Sizes At Trump’s Inauguration)

The accused official’s name was not made public by the IG.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accused the media of circulating inaccurate crowd sizes after photos showed a much larger turnout for Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential inauguration than for Donald Trump’s. (RELATED: Sean Spicer Rips The Media For Lying About Crowd Sizes At Trump’s Inauguration)

“The National Park Service does not put any [numbers] out,” Spicer said at the time.

The IG received an allegation “that an NPS National Mall and Memorial Parks … official instructed NPS employees to alter records related to crowd size estimates for the inauguration,” the report said. The complainant said the official ordered staff to “scrub” attendance records. (RELATED: The Official Photos Of The Crowd Size At President Trump’s Inauguration)

The official did order that crowd-size information be withheld from the report, but the IG found that instruction was consistent with NPS practice. Additionally, the official and witnesses denied that the word “scrub” was used, and NPS employees didn’t interpret the official’s orders as a command to alter records.

The official asked staff not to include crowd size estimates “because she wanted to make sure that the reports did not contain non-factual references to crowd size,” the report said. She explained that NPS stopped collecting and providing crowd size information after the 1995 Million Man March.

Also, the official instructed staff to exclude crowd size estimates after receiving media and White House interest for the information, according to the report.

The complainant said he would not have submitted the allegations to the IG had he known about that practice.

The complainant also submitted other allegations, including that public affairs officials released unauthorized information regarding a phone call between Acting NPS Director Michael Reynolds  and President Donald Trump; that one employee neglected the chain of command; and that an employee wrote a political Facebook post on his personal account during work hours.

“We did not find evidence to substantiate any of these allegations,” the report said.

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