Watchdog demands cause for White House refusal to release Mar-a-Lago visitor logs

Watchdog demands cause for White House refusal to release Mar-a-Lago visitor logs
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An ethics watchdog on Wednesday filed a motion requesting that a federal court compel the government to provide cause as to why it did not release the bulk of visitor logs from Mar-a-Lago.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), along with the Knight First Amendment Institute and the National Security Archive, filed the motion after the Trump administration last week rebuffed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

“[T]he government has repeatedly represented to the Court and to plaintiffs that the Secret Service was processing and would produce all non-exempt records for presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago, a process it claimed would require months,” the motion said. 

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“At the appointed deadline, defendants reneged on the agreement. Instead of seeking relief from the Court’s July 14 order or even acknowledging that they were violating its terms by failing to produce all responsive and non-exempt Mar-a-Lago records, defendants simply produced a two-page document regarding the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to Mar-a-Lago … Notably, defendants did not explain why they produced those two pages but not records of other visits that reportedly occurred during the periods covered by plaintiffs’ FOIA requests.”

CREW vowed last week to fight the government in court after it only released the names of a small batch of the visitors, all of whom were at Mar-a-Lago in connection with a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

President Trump has taken various meetings outside the White House at his properties, including Mar-a-Lago, his property in Palm Beach, Fla. that he has dubbed “the Winter White House.”

The left-leaning ethics watchdog argued in the motion that the court should order the Trump administration to release all Mar-a-Lago records it's seeking related to presidential visits at the club.

“Accordingly, the Court should immediately order the defendants to show cause for their failure to comply with the Court’s order to produce all the requested records of presidential visits to Mar-a-Lago, issue the requested briefing schedule, schedule a hearing to determine what sanctions, if any, are appropriate,” the motion said.