Donald Trump's complaints triggered a taxpayer-funded investigation into the inauguration, but the findings did not change the indisputable fact that President Barack Obama's inauguration crowd was much, much bigger.
Donald Trump and his allies triggered an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General that ended up proving, at taxpayers’ expense, that he is not nearly as popular as former President Barack Obama.
After Trump’s sparsely attended inauguration, he and his team put on a full-court press to prove that it was the most attended inauguration event in Washington history. The claim was the focus of press secretary Sean Spicer’s first briefing, during which he infamously claimed, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
It was an early sign that press briefings would be about fluffing Trump’s ego at taxpayer expense.
A side-by-side photo comparing the packed Washington Mall during Obama’s 2009 inauguration incensed Trump, and he personally initiated a witch hunt to find the National Park Service employee who retweeted the offending comparison on the service’s official website.
— Vilmos Nagy (@PunjabNagy) March 8, 2017
Now the Inspector General has released its findings after it received a complaint, which alleged that National Park Service employees had been instructed to alter official records on crowd sizes. The complaint also insinuated that public relations employees of the service had leaked the details of calls between Trump and the acting director of the park service about his disappointing crowd size.
Unfortunately for team Trump, the Inspector General’s investigation came up empty.
“We did not find evidence to substantiate any of these allegations.” The report further indicates, “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 facts of the case remain the same as they were on the day Trump was sworn in: There were more people at Obama’s inauguration. Period.
An expert solicited by the New York Times found that the Trump crowd was “about a third of the size of Mr. Obama’s in 2009.” Trump claimed that the crowd “went all the way back to the Washington Monument,” but according to the Times, “Aerial photographs clearly show that the crowd did not stretch to the Washington Monument.”
Spicer’s claim that Trump’s was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration” doesn’t even hold up if you count people who watched on TV. While 30.6 million watched the broadcast of Trump’s day, 38 million watched Obama in 2009.
Trump doesn’t even measure up to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, which had 42 million viewers.
Spicer also claimed more people rode the DC metro subway for Trump’s inauguration, but data showed that 211,443 more people rode the rails for Obama.
Photographic evidence of the disparity is as clear six months later as it was on Inauguration Day. Fewer people showed up for Trump, both at his inauguration and at the polls. No amount of complaining can change that, not even a government investigation wasting time and resources.