White House decides against releasing visitor records
The administration cited "grave national security risks and privacy concerns".
Under the new policy, logs of people entering the White House to lobby or meet with the president or his aides will not be made public until five years after President Donald Trump leaves office.
The White House under former President Barack Obama voluntarily released over 6 million records of White House visitors.
Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said, "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".
A group of democratic senators introduced in March a bill that would require "the publication of visitor logs to the White House or any other location where President Trump regularly conducts official business, including various Trump Organization properties frequented by the president".
The Obama administration began releasing visitor records in September 2009 in response to legal challenges. "The president brings unprecedented conflicts of interest to the White House, and he already has taken actions in office that suggest he is more concerned with helping people like him - the wealthy and well-connected - than he is with empowering ordinary Americans".
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Now, ethics watchdogs and good government groups are asking the same thing of Trump following his decision to keep the visitor logs secret. After almost two years of public, Trump still has not released his tax returns, which all of the men to hold his position since Richard Nixon have done.
The official who spoke with NBC News accused the Obama White House of practicing "faux" transparency.
"There was outcry over how he briefed the president and the press but did not share the data with his colleagues on the committee", The Two-Way reported.
Trump has been keeping his visitor logs secret since he took office in January. However, the lists didn't include meetings it considered sensitive to national security or "confidential". (Multiple people in his administration have significant ties to fossil fuel industries, health care companies, and manufacturing industries, according to The Atlantic.) Being able to see who is stopping by the White House is a key way to monitor which lobbyists and donors trying to curry favor with the people who lead the country and hold those politicians accountable. An official said it would save $70,000 through 2020 and that the removed disclosures, salaries and appointments would be integrated into WhiteHouse.gov in the coming months.
CREW said Friday's decision was disappointing, given that Trump repeatedly promised at his raucous campaign rallies to "drain the swamp".
But records of visitors to the Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy are not covered by that court decision, which is why they remain subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
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Apr 14 2017