Dems, GOP spar over White House visitor logs

Subcommittee Democrats accused the GOP of staging Tuesday's hearing for political purposes, noting that the administration was invited to testify only six days in advance and could not produce a witness because of a similar hearing happening at the same time.

"It's hard to take this hearing seriously," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said.

The administration has released more than 1 million visitors logs, but critics say those records are incomplete. Republicans charged Tuesday that administration officials have begun scheduling meetings at a nearby coffee shop specifically to circumvent the administration's policy of voluntarily disclosing most meetings held inside the White House.

“Maybe next time, instead of holding the hearing here, we can go to the Caribou Coffee shop next to the White House,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said.

The Obama administration has adopted the same legal opinion as the Bush administration on whether certain records are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. But Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the White House has nevertheless taken “a lot of steps” toward transparency.

Although CREW disagrees with the White House’s legal position, she said, Obama has “fulfilled his campaign promise” on transparency, in large part by releasing the visitors logs.