Trump administration says it won't publish visitor logs

  • Trump administration says it won't publish visitor logs

Trump administration says it won't publish visitor logs

That federal court ruling said White House visitor logs are "presidential records" not subject to the Freedom of Information Act - though the Obama administration voluntarily released more than 6 million records of visitor during its eight years in office, a policy that Trump is reversing.

As you know, after significant public and legal pressure, the administration of former President Barack Obama agreed to release regularly information regarding visitors to the White House. White House lawyers also deleted names for national security and other reasons before the logs were made public.

In response to lawsuits, the Obama administration posted the visitor logs for most visitors, with exceptions for private personal visits and for sensitive meetings such as interviews with Supreme Court and other nominees.

The move was the latest by the new administration to limit the access of reporters and the public to information about the internal workings of the executive branch and of its key officials - starting with President Donald Trump's refusal, despite decades of precedence, to release his own tax returns.

Those seeking the logs under the Trump administration must file Freedom of Information Act requests.

Shortly after launching his campaign in the summer of 2015, Trump called for "total transparency" about who politicians are speaking with.

CREW said it filed a lawsuit this week against the Trump administration "to make sure they would continue to release the logs". The White House says the records are exempt from the law.

But White House officials argued that the new policy is needed to help the president meet freely with outside advisers.

He said the decision was based on the "grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually".

Notably missing has been the visitor logs. "Given the unique aspects of how President Trump has chose to conduct official business, we believe he needs to do even more just to meet the benchmark of transparency set by President Obama".

Visitation to the White House has been a hot issue for many administrations, but has been in the spotlight recently because of U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican who previously was heading the House investigation into the White House and foreign influence.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) sharply criticized the news on Friday. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University cited freedom of information laws.

"By instituting historic restrictions on lobbying to close the revolving door, expanding and elevating ethics within the White House Counsel's office, and opening the White House Press Briefing Room to media outlets that otherwise can not gain access, the Trump Administration has broken new ground in ensuring our government is both ethical and accessible to the American people", Dubke's statement continued.

"The president's promise to "drain the swamp" has never rung more hollow than it does today", he added.