White House Clams Up
White House Clams Up
Trump Administration Will Withhold Visitor Logs
The Trump administration has a new message for Americans curious about who is visiting, and presumably trying to influence the president and his staff:
Move along. Nothing to see here.
The White House announced Friday that it will not release its visitor logs, reversing a transparency policy instituted during the Obama administration. Time magazine reports the administration also is ending an Obama-era contract for Open.gov, a website that hosted the logs along with financial disclosure statements and salary lists for the president’s staff.
White House communications director Michael Dubke told Time the records are being withheld because of “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”
Dubke did not detail those risks. The Obama administration released records of nearly 6 million White House visits without incident.
Time said three unnamed administration officials it questioned about the decision argued that Trump needs the freedom to seek advice from whoever he wants, “with some discretion. The magazine also noted that while maintaining an open records policy, Obama withheld records of the visits of personal and family friends, celebrities, top donors, and people invited to the White House for “sensitive” meetings, like interviews for federal judgeships or top administrative posts.
While the Secret Service maintains the visitor logs, a federal court has ruled they are not among the official records required to be available for public release under the Freedom of Information Act.
Trump has spent about one-fourth of his time in office at or traveling to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where the Secret Service does not record the comings and goings of his visitors Several members of Congress have introduced legislation that would require the maintenance and public release of visitor logs at any location where the president conducts official business.