Fact check: Trump falsely claims police turned away ‘thousands’ from Manhattan courthouse and that supporters ‘can’t get near’

Former President Donald Trump is a famed exaggerator of the size of his crowds. For years, he has lied about how many supporters attended his presidential inauguration and numerous campaign rallies.

Now he’s pushing a wildly inaccurate claim about how many supporters have attempted to show up at his first criminal trial – and he’s making additional false claims about security measures around the Manhattan courthouse, which he is baselessly blaming for keeping these supposed supporters away.

After The New York Times published a story that said Trump was unhappy with the meager crowd he saw when he arrived at the courthouse for opening statements on Monday, Trump posted on social media on Tuesday to deny the story, denigrate a Times reporter and make this claim: “Thousands of people were turned away from the Courthouse in Lower Manhattan by steel stanchions and police, literally blocks from the tiny side door from where I enter and leave. It is an armed camp to keep people away.”

Trump also wrote on social media on Monday that “Lower Manhattan surrounding the Courthouse, where I am heading now, is completely CLOSED DOWN.” And he told reporters inside the courthouse on Tuesday: “For blocks you can’t get near this courthouse.”

Facts First: Trump’s claims are all false. The police have not turned away “thousands of people” from the courthouse during his trial; only a handful of Trump supporters have shown up to demonstrate near the building. And while there are various security measures in place in the area, including some street closures enforced by police officers and barricades, it’s not true that “for blocks you can’t get near this courthouse.” In reality, the designated protest zone for the trial is at a park directly across the street from the courthouse – and, in addition, people are permitted to drive right up to the front of the courthouse and walk into the building, which remains open to the public. If people show up early enough in the morning, they can even get into the trial courtroom itself or the overflow room that shows near-live video of the proceedings.

CNN journalists reporting from the courthouse area have seen a smattering of visibly pro-Trump demonstrators present in the designated protest zone at Collect Pond Park across from the building, but nowhere even close to “thousands.” There were well under 100 visible Trump supporters gathered there at the outset of the trial in mid-April, and there have often been three or fewer there on subsequent days.

Trump may have been suggesting that thousands would have been present if not for repressive security measures. But that’s nonsense. Trump supporters are free to walk into not only the protest zone but also the courthouse itself, though they, like everyone else, have to observe decorum rules if they go inside.

Security isn’t as restrictive as Trump has claimed

Police have prohibited public access to some of the streets and sidewalks near the courthouse during the approximate hours that court is in session, and there are additional blockages during the brief periods of heightened security when Trump’s motorcade is arriving and departing for the day.

But aside from those coming-and-going periods, there is nothing close to a complete closure of the area. In fact, the cars of members of the public can regularly be seen traveling right in front of the courthouse in CNN’s live television coverage from the scene during court hours.

George Conway, the conservative attorney and vocal Trump critic, wrote on social media on Wednesday: “I took an Uber right to the front entrance of the courthouse yesterday morning. It’s all very peaceful and orderly, the court officers and police officers are nice, and if you walked your dog down the street the two of you would outnumber the Trump supporters there.”

CNN’s Kara Scannell, Lauren del Valle, Jeremy Herb, Nicki Brown, Sabrina Souza and Joel Williams contributed to this article.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com