President Donald Trump reportedly had a longtime aide fired after being disappointed by the crowd size of his campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona.
On Aug. 22, Trump held a rally in Phoenix that was billed as both a speech on immigration and a stop for his re-election campaign. The president's remarks stirred controversy as he blasted journalists whom he believed were unfair to his administration and criticized GOP Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona.
Trump, before stepping out onto the podium, was reportedly upset when he saw television coverage of the rally. Supporters were still trickling into the Phoenix Convention Center and the crowd did not fill the entire multipurpose room. The unflattering optics allegedly prompted Trump to dismiss contractor George Gigicos, a longtime aide who had organized Trump rallies throughout the 2016 presidential race, Bloomberg reports.
When Trump took to the stage, he suggested that as many as 15,000 people were in attendance. City of Phoenix spokesperson Julie Watters later disclosed that at least 15,000 supporters had attempted to join the rally but many were not present in the convention center.
"I can confirm the overall number of people who came to the rally was approximately 15,000," Watters told AZ Central. "There were more than 10,000 inside and there were approximately between 4,500 to 5,000 outside who were turned away because the event was wrapping up."
Trump spoke before the audience for 75 minutes. Before the president concluded his speech, hundreds of attendees had already filed out of the multipurpose room to go home, according to The Washington Post.
On Aug. 23, Trump took to social media to tout his Phoenix rally turnout.
"Phoenix crowd last night was amazing -- a packed house," Trump tweeted out.
While the president publicly praised the size of his crowd, he reportedly had an aide inform Gigicos that he would not be asked to organize an event for him ever again. Three sources familiar with the matter asserted that Trump security aide Keith Schiller broke the news to Gigicos, while other sources alleged that Trump re-election campaign executive director Michael Glassner made the phone call.
Gigicos is among Trump's longest-serving political aides. The event organizer had arranged the president's rallies through the 2016 presidential race and worked as the White House director of advance. On July 31, Gigicos left his Oval Office job but continued to organize campaign rallies for Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Several sources familiar with the matter believed that the firing was only temporary, asserting that Gigicos is popular within Trump's inner circle.
"George will be back ... This is what (Trump) does," one source told CNN. "He tries to get under your skin."
Concern over crowd sizes has been a theme in the Trump administration since the president's inauguration. On Jan. 21, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer blasted reports that Trump's inauguration crowd was smaller than recent predecessors.
"That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period," Spicer said during his first White House press conference. "Both in person and around the globe."
The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact found that there was no evidence that Trump's inauguration crowd size bested former President Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 turnouts by any metric. The fact-checking website rated Spicer's statement as "Pants on Fire."