With the Trump-Russia scandal dominating the headlines in one form or another for most of his presidency, it’s easy to forget that the first scandal of the Trump era – on his first full day in office, in fact – involved the size of his inauguration crowd.
Remember those good ole days, when the scandals were petty, and more comical than they were consequencial? When, even though it was disgraceful, we laughed at Trump much more than we cried about the reality we were living in?
Well, the “Crowd Size Gate” scandal is back in the news for what we hope is the last time, as a government watch dog agency asked to look into the matter delivered its findings.
Yes, you read that correctly. An official tax-payer funded investigation was launched to decide once and for all which president had the bigger… inaugural crowd size. How did it come to this?
According to washingtonjournal, the day after his inauguration, President Trump sent newly minted Press Secretary Sean Spicer out to scold the media at a hastily arranged press conference for correctly reporting that the size of his inauguration crowd was smaller than President Obama’s crowds. Massively smaller, in fact, than the 2008 audience that saw the first African American take the highest office in the land.
Not so, said Spicer, who insisted that Trump’s crowd was clearly “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.” It wasn’t just the media that Trump targeted. He called the The National Parks Service personally, records show, to demand to know who released the now infamous side-by-side photo of his sparse crowd next to Obama’s jam-packed audience.
But the inquisition didn’t stop there. The Office of the Inspector General was later ordered to investigate the National Park Service – at tax payer expense. Specifically, the complaint allies of the President filed on his behalf alleged that National Mall and Memorial Parks Division (NAMA) employees doctored records of both crowd sizes to favor President Obama. In the same complaint, it was alleged that staff members leaked details of phone calls Trump made to the National Parks Service Director.
The Inspector General issued its report yesterday and, surprise-surprise, they found no wrong doing by the National Park Service. The photos have not been doctored. Obama’s crowd size was much, much larger.
“We did not find evidence to substantiate any of these allegations,” the report concludes. “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.”
Your tax dollars hard at work. Are we winning yet? You can see the photo below and decide for yourself one last time.