Conservative group slams White House shift on visitor logs
A conservative legal group on Friday slammed President Trump’s administration for deciding not to voluntarily disclose who visits the White House complex.
Judicial Watch said in a statement that “this new secrecy policy undermines the rule of law and suggests this White House doesn’t want to be accountable to the American people.”
“Unfortunately, this move is perfectly in line with the policy of the Obama White House to prevent these visitor logs from being processed and released under the Freedom of Information Act,” the group’s president, Tom Fitton, said in the statement.
The Trump administration announced the move earlier Friday, breaking with a practice started under former President Barack Obama.
White House communications director Michael Dubke cited “the grave national security concerns and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually” in explaining the change.
A limited number of records for visitors to White House departments, such as the Office of Management and Budget, will remain accessible through Freedom of Information Act requests, but most records will remain unavailable, including those dealing with the president and his senior staff.
That has prompted outcry from various ethics and transparency watchdogs, including Judicial Watch, which argue the public deserves to know who is visiting the White House.
Judicial Watch repeatedly sued Hillary Clinton over the private email server she used while serving as secretary of State during the Obama administration.
The administration’s decision ensures the records will be kept secret until five years after Trump’s departure from office. Records were previously posted online on a monthly basis three or four months after an individual visited the White House.
Trump has previously accused Obama of trying to obscure the same records from public scrutiny.
“Why is @BarackObama spending millions to try and hide his records?” Trump tweeted in 2012. “He is the least transparent President – ever – and he ran on transparency.”
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