Speaking at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Virginia, Trump overstated the size of the crowd that showed up to watch the president take the oath of office.
“We had, it looked, honestly it looked like a million and a half people, whatever it was it was,” Trump said. “It went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”
Though no official attendance numbers had been released of as Saturday afternoon, live television footage and photographs from Friday’s inauguration show large gaps of empty space in the crowd at the National Mall.
“I turn on (the television) by mistake, and I get this network and it showed an empty field,” Trump told CIA staff. “And it said we drew 250,000 people. Now that’s not bad, but it’s a lie. We had 250,000 people literally around that little ball we constructed, that was 250,000 people.
“The rest of the 20 block-area all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed. So, we caught them and we caught them in a beauty,” Trump said.
WATCH: Trump Inauguration: Size comparison of Trump vs. Obama crowds.
Trump said the news outlets will pay a “big price” for what he claims is dishonesty.
Following Trump’s comments at the CIA headquarters, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lashed out at the media over refuting inauguration crowd numbers.
“Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” Spicer said in a briefing. “This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings had been used to protect the grass on the mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.”
Spicer went on to point out that this was the first time fences went as far back on the mall which prevented people flowing into the area at a timely fashion.
“Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted. No one had numbers because the National Park service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.” Spicer firmly told reporters.
The press secretary broke down the size of the National Mall by size of blocks and provided his estimate of how many people could fit within each area. He also noted the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority ridership numbers.
WATCH: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer delivers a statement refuting media claims that there was a low turnout for the inauguration.
“We know that 420,000 people used the DC Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural,” Spicer said. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”
One way to help measure relative turnout for Trump is by using the ridership on Washington D.C.’s metro system, which is one of the easiest ways to reach the site. You can also bike or walk, but road closures make driving very difficult.
The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, which operates the subway, tweeted that as of 11 a.m., approximately 193,000 people had taken the Metro.
In 2009, the number at the same hour was 513,000. The ridership ahead of George Bush’s second inauguration in 2005 was 197,000.
-with a file from Global News reporter Monique Scotti