Trump administration won’t release White House visitor logs

15th April 2017

The Trump administration will not voluntarily disclose logs of visitors to the White House complex, it announced Friday, breaking with the practice started under former President Obama.

The White House cited “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns” of people who visit the White House, according to Time. Officials said that keeping the visitor logs private is necessary to protect President Trump’s ability to seek advice from people “with some discretion.”

A limited number of records of visitors to White House departments, such as the Office of Management and Budget, will be accessible through Freedom of Information Act requests. But most will not, including those that apply to the president and his senior staff.

The announcement is likely to anger ethics and good-government watchdogs, who argue the public has the right to know who is visiting the White House.Three of those organizations sued the administration in federal court this week, demanding the logs be released.

“We hoped that the Trump administration would follow the precedent of the Obama administration and continue to release visitor logs, but unfortunately they have not,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a statement.

Under the Trump administration’s policy, the records will be kept secret until five years after the president leaves office.

Since Trump took office Jan. 20, a section of the White House website where the visitor logs were posted under Obama has been left blank.

“This page is being updated. It will post records of White House visitors on an ongoing basis, once they become available,” the webpage reads.

The Obama administration’s decision to disclose visitor logs came in response to a series of lawsuits that began under former President George W. Bush. Records were posted online on a monthly basis for people who visited 90 to 120 days prior.
But exceptions were carved out for “purely personal guests of the first and second families” and “records related to a small group of particularly sensitive meetings.”
That often sparked criticism that the Obama White House was being less than forthcoming about who was visiting. For example, the first family hosted a “private” concert in 2015 headlined by Prince and Stevie Wonder that was attended by 500 people, including influential business figures and campaign supporters.
Those guests were not included in the publicly released visitor records.
As a private citizen in 2012, Trump criticized Obama for trying to hide public records.
“Why is @BarackObama spending millions to try and hide his records? He is the least transparent President–ever–and he ran on transparency,” he tweeted.

 

 

source:http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/328857-trump-administration-wont-release-white-house-visitor-logs

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