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News outlets that covered pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington, D.C., estimated that thousands attended them.
It’s mathematically impossible for more than 135,000 people to fit in the location that McEnany referenced in her tweet.
The Trump administration is ending the same way it started: spreading false claims about crowd sizes in Washington, D.C.
On Nov. 14, thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters rallied in Washington to support false claims that he had won re-election. But White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted an alternative estimate of the demonstration’s attendance.
"AMAZING! More than one MILLION marchers for President @realDonaldTrump descend on the swamp in support," McEnany said in the tweet, which has been shared more than 56,000 times.
The post took us back to January 2017, when Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer, claimed the crowd at Trump’s inauguration "was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period." We rated that claim Pants on Fire!
Since Trump retweeted a claim that more than a million people gathered in Washington to support him, we wanted to take a closer look at McEnany’s tweet.
(Screenshot from Twitter)
The claim is wrong. News outlets that covered the protests estimated that thousands, not more than 1 million, attended them. It’s mathematically impossible for more than 135,000 people to fit in the location that McEnany tweeted a photo of.
On the morning of Nov. 14, several concurrent events — including the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal DC — converged near Freedom Plaza in Washington. Among the demonstrators were conspiracy theorists, right-wing activists alleging widespread election fraud and members of the Proud Boys, a far right, all-male group with a history of violent confrontations.
Several Washington news outlets estimated that the pro-Trump demonstrations had thousands of attendees. Trump himself has tweeted various estimates of the crowd size, ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Women for America First, one of the groups that demonstrated, secured a National Park Service permit for 10,000 people in Freedom Plaza.
Here are a few other estimates of the crowd size on Nov. 14:
Fox News: "Tens of thousands"
The Washington Post: "Thousands"
USA Today: "Tens of thousands"
The Washington Times: "Thousands"
We asked the Metropolitan Police Department for its best estimate of the attendance at the weekend’s Washington-area demonstrations, which grew violent toward the end of the day when hundreds of counterprotesters showed up. Brianna Jordan, a public affairs specialist, said the MPD "does not provide numbers on crowd size."
It’s difficult to gauge crowd size, and estimates are just that — estimates. But there is no evidence that more than 1 million people attended pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington over the weekend.
In her tweet, McEnany included two screenshots of a Fox News broadcast about the gatherings. The footage shows demonstrators on a street near Freedom Plaza, which is a few blocks east of the White House, a little after 11 a.m. Eastern Time.
McEnany tweeted her estimate at 11:16 a.m. ET, before the marches were officially set to begin at noon. It’s also not possible for more than 135,000 people to fit into Freedom Plaza and the surrounding streets and sidewalks, according to MapChecking, an online tool that uses a mathematical equation to estimate how many people can fit in a given location.
The stills that McEnany shared show plenty of space between demonstrators. For there to be 105,000 people depicted in the photos, which MapChecking classifies as "packed" for the location, there would have to have been four people per square meter. The National Park Service says the maximum capacity for Freedom Plaza is 13,900.
For comparison, estimates of the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration ranged from 250,000 to 600,000. And that event was held on the National Mall, where there is far more space for people to spread out.
Also in 2017, at least 470,000 people were estimated to have showed up for the Women’s March near the National Mall in Washington. Estimates for the crowd size at the 1995 Million Man March, which inspired the name of the Million MAGA March, vary widely, ranging between 400,000 and 1.9 million.
We reached out to the White House for a comment, but we haven’t heard back.
McEnany’s tweet is inaccurate. We rate it False.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.
DCist, "Here’s What We Know About The MAGA Rallies Planned In D.C. This Weekend," Nov. 13, 2020
DCist, "One Person Stabbed Amid Violent Clashes In Downtown D.C. After Pro-Trump Rally," Nov. 14, 2020
Email from Brianna Jordan, public affairs specialist for the Metropolitan Police Department, Nov. 16, 2020
Google Earth, accessed Nov. 14, 2020
The Hill, "McEnany predicts 'quite large' turnout at 'Million MAGA March' in DC," Nov. 12, 2020
MapChecking, accessed Nov. 14, 2020
National Park Service, DEMONSTRATIONS, NATIONAL CELEBRATIONS, AND SPECIAL EVENTS
The New York Times, "Crowd Scientists Say Women’s March in Washington Had 3 Times as Many People as Trump’s Inauguration," Jan. 22, 2017
NPR, "Trump Supporters, Counterprotesters Clash At D.C. Rally Contesting Biden's Victory," Nov. 14, 2020
PolitiFact, "Donald Trump had biggest inaugural crowd ever? Metrics don't show it," Jan. 22, 2017
PolitiFact, "How we know Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential race," Nov. 13, 2020
Tweet from Donald Trump, Nov. 14, 2020
Tweet from Donald Trump, Nov. 14, 2020
Tweet from Kayleigh McEnany, Nov. 14, 2020
Tweet from Ryan Fournier, Nov. 14, 2020
The Washington Post, "After thousands of Trump supporters rally in D.C., violence erupts when night falls," Nov. 14, 2020
The Washington Times, "Violence erupts at D.C. MAGA march as leftist agitators encounter Trump supporters," Nov. 15, 2020
Washingtonian, "PHOTOS: Scenes From The Million MAGA March," Nov. 14, 2020
WTOP, "PHOTOS: Trump supporters march in DC, Virginia to protest election results," Nov. 14, 2020
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