The El Paso Fire Department late Monday denied President Donald Trump’s claim that officials gave him special permission to pack more people in to his rally than the facility allowed.
During his rally at the El Paso County Coliseum, Trump touted his base supporters, saying “there has never been anything like this in the history of our country.”
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“If you would say, as an example, that tonight 69,000 people signed up to be here,” he said. “Now the arena holds 8,000. And thank you, Fire Department. They got in about 10,000. Thank you, Fire Department. Appreciate it.”
The El Paso Fire Department said Trump’s statement was untrue.
Fire Department spokesman Enrique Aguilar told the El Paso Times on Monday that Trump did not receive permission to exceed the limit and that there were 6,500 people inside the building during the president’s rally. The coliseum holds about 6,500 people. There were thousands more watching Trump’s speech on big screens outside the facility.
Aguilar added that “it might be 10,000 with the people outside,” but said that the Fire Department didn’t track the number of people outside of the coliseum, the El Paso Times reported.
Trump has inflated his crowd sizes in the past and hit back at critics who questioned the numbers.
The president also falsely claimed on Monday night that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is considering a 2020 presidential run, only had a couple hundred people attend his counter-rally in El Paso.
“So we have, let’s say, 35,000 people tonight,” the president said. “And he has 200 people, 300 people. Not too good,” Trump said of O’Rourke.
“In fact, what I would do is say, ‘That may be the end of his presidential bid,'” the president said. “But he did challenge us.”
Trump on Tuesday doubled down on those false claims in an exchange with reporters during a Tuesday cabinet meeting, telling the White House press pool that O’Rourke “failed very badly” and that “from what I hear he had less than 1,000 people.”