Trump White House Will Keep Visitor Logs Secret From Public

  • Stance marks reversal of Obama administration’s policy
  • Officials cite privacy and security reasons for the change

The White House will no longer disclose logs of visitors to the 18-acre complex where President Donald Trump lives and works, Trump administration officials said Friday.

The decision is a sharp reversal from the Obama administration, which voluntarily disclosed more than 6 million “Visitor Access Records” during his presidency on a website. The White House cited security and privacy concerns, according to White House Communications Director Michael Dubke.

“Given the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the White House Office will disclose Secret Service logs as outlined under the Freedom of Information Act, a position the Obama White House successfully defended in federal court,” Dubke said in a statement.

Trump entered office pledging to “drain the swamp” and combat corruption in the nation’s Capitol. He has since hired several Wall Street executives into his administration and regularly meets with business leaders at the White House, occasionally in private. After signing an order banning his administration officials from becoming lobbyists, Trump has already offered at least one waiver allowing a former official to join a business lobbying group.

“The only reason to keep secret the White House visitor logs is to hide from the American public the corporate influence-peddlers who are seeking favors and gifts from the White House,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit watchdog group. “More secrecy equals more cronyism, more insider dealing and more corruption.”

‘See Them in Court’

The decision to withhold the information on White House visitors comes after open-government groups sued the administration over the logs.

“It looks like we’ll see them in court,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Friday in a statement.

The Obama administration didn’t release all records of visitors to the White House, as the president reserved the ability to withhold names of those who visited for purely personal reasons or those who participated in sensitive meetings on subjects like court appointments.

The policy allowed the Obama administration to withhold names of celebrities who attended private parties at the White House and potential Supreme Court nominees.

The Trump administration released background information that criticized its predecessor for skirting its own policy on transparency, saying officials working for President Barack Obama regularly met with lobbyists outside the White House and routinely withheld names from the logs.

Under the new Trump administration policy, the contract for the website Open.WhiteHouse.gov won’t be renewed.

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