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President Trump Tweets About Protests, Inauguration Ratings

  • Ken Bredemeier
  • Ken Schwartz

Crowds of people attend a rally before the Women’s March, studded with celebrities and lawmakers, in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (E. Sarai/VOA)

President Donald Trump responded on Twitter Sunday to the women's marches held Saturday. Millions of people turned out in cities across the U.S. and around the world to rally for women's rights and other social justice issues. The protests were sparked by Trump's election in November.

"Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election!" Trump said in a Twitter message from the White House, his home for the next four years. "Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly."

Those celebrities included feminist icon Gloria Steinem, pop star Madonna and actress Scarlett Johansson. They were among those who attended Saturday's Women's March on Washington as a rebuke to Trump's inauguration as the country's 45th president on Friday.

WATCH: Gloria Steinem addresses Women's March

But two hours later, Trump said in another tweet, "Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views."

Inauguration numbers

Trump also boasted about the number of people who watched his inaugural on television, saying, "Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!"

The Nielsen television rating service said the 30.6 million who watched Trump's ascent to power topped the 20.6 million figure for former President Barack Obama's inauguration to a second term in 2013, but fell 19 percent short of the 37.8 million who watched Obama's first inauguration in 2009. More Americans typically watch inaugurations when a new president takes office, with the biggest number - 41.8 million - recorded in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated for the first of his two terms.

President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd in front of the Capitol during his inaugural address. January 20, 2017 (B. Allen / VOA)
President Donald Trump speaks to the crowd in front of the Capitol during his inaugural address. January 20, 2017 (B. Allen / VOA)

Trump said on a visit Saturday to the Central Intelligence Agency that the news media lied about the size of the crowd that watched him assume power. Numerous media outlets in the U.S. showed vast swaths of the National Mall vacant as he was sworn into office, compared to pictures of shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at the two Obama inaugurations.

U.S. officials do not make official crowd estimates for security reasons. Buy the new president claimed - wrongly - that Friday's crowd stretched down the mall from the Capitol, where he was sworn in, to the Washington Monument, the obelisk paying homage to the country's first president, George Washington.

Trump, apparently worried about attempts to deligitimize his presidency, said one television network showed "an empty field" and reported that he drew just 250,000 people to his inauguration.

“We had a massive field of people, you saw that. Packed,” Trump said at the CIA. “I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks and they show ... an empty field. I said, wait a minute, I made a speech! I looked out, the field was ... it looked like a million, a million-and-a-half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said, 'Donald Trump did not draw well!'"

Trump said, "It’s a lie. We caught [the media]. We caught them in a beauty."

Later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," moments after declaring that "no one had numbers" because the government years ago stopped making crowd estimates for large gatherings on the mall.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told NBC's Meet the Press Sunday that Spicer was offering journalists "alternative facts" about the size of the inauguration crowd.

Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus told another news show, Fox News Sunday, "The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day, and we're not going to sit around and take it. I'm saying there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president and we are not going to sit around let it happen. We are going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday."

Throughout his unlikely run to the White House, Trump has regularly disparaged media accounts about him. For weeks after his election, he dismissed conclusions reached by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia had meddled in the election in an effort to help him win, only acknowledging shortly before his inauguration that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered hacking into the computer of Hillary Clinton's campaign chief John Podesta.

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks released thousands of Podesta's emails in the month before the election, many of them revealing embarrassing details of how Democratic operatives helped Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

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