Trump Inauguration Photos Cropped to Make Crowd Look Larger, Documents Reveal

Photographs from President Donald Trump's inauguration were edited to make the crowd size appear larger than it was, according to documents obtained by The Guardian.

The documents show Trump requested a new set of pictures from the inauguration the day after he was sworn in, detailing a phone call between the president and the director of the National Park Service, Michael Reynolds.

Sean Spicer, who was then White House press secretary, also called the NPS, the records show, looking for pictures from the inauguration that were more flattering to the president.

Attendees partake in the inauguration ceremonies to swear in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2017. Reuters

The phone calls came following Spicer's claim that the crowd at Trump's inauguration "was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe."

Spicer more recently suggested that he had made errors with his claim, speaking in an interview with The Washington Post. "I think that what I was trying to do, and clearly not well, was change the focus from the number of people attending it to focus on the total audience that had watched it, and I thought we were on much safer ground there than trying to focus on the number of people on different areas of the National Mall here in Washington. I did not clearly do a very good job of that," he said.

The documents obtained by The Guardian, released to the publication by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of the Interior following a Freedom of Information Act request, show that Reynolds contacted an NPS official—whose name was redacted in the report. The official got the impression that "President Trump wanted to see pictures that appeared to depict more spectators in the crowd," she told investigators.

The reports do not suggest that the president requested the photographs be edited, but the official assumed that the new pictures requested by the president needed to be cropped and got in touch with the photographer.

Another NPS official who spoke with Spicer also contacted the photographer, after Spicer asked the official for pictures that "accurately represented the inauguration crowd size." The reports showed Spicer was closely involved in the effort to get more flattering pictures.

The records do not show whether or not the pictures that were cropped were publicly shared, and which pictures the cropping applied to.

Following these requests, the photographer said he "edited the inauguration photographs to make them look more symmetrical by cropping out the sky and cropping out the bottom where the crowd ended. He said he did so to show that there had been more of a crowd," investigators reported.

They also reported that the photographer confirmed he had not specifically been asked to crop the pictures to make the crowd look bigger, but that he believed cropping was what the official "had wanted him to do."

The cropping did not appear in the inspector general's final report on the inauguration crowd because at the time the photographer had said cropping was standard practice in his work, and the inspectors did not include this detail in their write-up, a spokeswoman for the inspector general told The Guardian.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.