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Trump Defends Women's March Protests After First Joking About Them


U.S. President Donald Trump has said he "recognizes the rights" of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who protested in support of a "Women's March" in Washington against him.

"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," tweeted Trump early on January 22.

The tone of the tweet differed from a sarcastic one he sent a few hours earlier: "Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly."

The tweets were the Trump administration's first comments about more than 1 million people who are estimated to have demonstrated at marches in Washington and other cities in the United States and around the world on January 21, one day after Trump was inaugurated as the country's 45th president.

PHOTO GALLERY: Women Of The World March Against Trump

The Washington women's rally reportedly attracted more people than were in attendance at the inauguration held at the Capitol building.

Reports that more people had attended the first inauguration of President Barack Obama led to a sharp reaction by White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who insisted the media had falsely reported crowd numbers and that Trump's inauguration had the largest audience in history "both in person and around the globe."

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus called the inauguration reports "attacks."

"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," said Priebus on Fox News.

Priebus was also upset about a media pool report that Trump had removed a bust of civil rights icon Martin Luther King from the Oval Office in favor of one of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, reversing a move by Obama.

The King bust had, in fact, not been taken from the Oval Office, and the report was later corrected.

Priebus said the Trump administration is "going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday" against what he calls "attacks" by the media.

Meanwhile, senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on January 22 that Spicer was not putting out a falsehood but rather offering "alternative facts."

Aerial photographs appeared to show that crowds for Trump's inauguration were smaller than in 2009, when Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, was sworn in.

Conway later added that Trump will not release his tax returns, breaking a long tradition of presidents making their returns public.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Twitter

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