Report: Trump called park official to dispute crowd photos

WASHINGTON (AP) " On his first full day in office, President Donald Trump called the acting director of the National Park Service to dispute widely circulated photos of Trump's inauguration.

Trump personally ordered park service head Michael Reynolds to produce additional photographs of the previous day's crowds on the National Mall, The Washington Post reported. The president believed that the photos might prove that the news media had lied in reporting that attendance had been no better than average, the newspaper said.

The Post reported that Reynolds forwarded additional photos to the White House as requested.

Photos taken that day made clear that crowds didn't extend to the Lincoln Memorial as Trump later asserted and that his claim of 1 million to 1.5 million people in attendance was wrong.

A spokesman for the park service confirmed the call Thursday night but declined to reveal details of the conversation. Asked about Trump's call, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "President Trump is someone who takes action and gets things done " this is one of the reasons he won and Hillary (Clinton) didn't."

Trump also expressed anger over a retweet sent from the park service's account, in which side-by-side photographs showed far fewer people at his swearing-in than had shown up to see President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, the Post reported.

The call from Trump came after the Interior Department briefly suspended park service accounts and others run by the department in response to the retweeted photos and another tweet that pointed out that webpages about some issues, including climate change, had been removed from the White House site.

The Interior Department accounts were reactivated the next day.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Friday he was incredulous at Trump's call.

"I'm just worried he's going to call the National Park Service director to mow his lawn or the secretary of transportation to wash his limo," said Grijalva, senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the park service.

"I think most Americans are scratching their heads over this kind of behavior," Grijalva added. "Doesn't (Trump) know he's supposed to be running these agencies for us, not for himself?"

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Trump's phone call serves as a warning to federal employees to stay focused on providing facts to the American public.

"We rely on you to resist any pressure to provide us with anything other than the truth," Cummings said, directing his remarks to an estimated 2.6 million civilian workers. Lawmakers "stand by, ready to defend you if you do that," Cummings said.

Park service employees launched a Twitter campaign against Trump this week. After three climate-science tweets by Badlands National Park were deleted, several other parks posted tweets related to climate change in an apparent show of solidarity and defiance.

Trump has called climate change a hoax, and many readers saw the climate-related tweets as a message of defiance to the new president.

Tom Crosson, the chief spokesman for the park service, declined to comment on any of the tweets sent out by park service accounts, but he said there is no restriction on agency use of Twitter or other social media.

"There's no gag order on national parks that would prevent people from tweeting," he said.

Trump used his Twitter account during the campaign to bash opponents and share his messages directly to his supporters. But government policy indicates that any agency must agree with the contents of whatever it shares on social media.

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Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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