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.