White House decides against releasing visitor records

Apr 25, 2017, 12:59

Ultimately, almost 6 million visitor records were released, though certain visits were excluded, including for national security or law enforcement reasons. Under a separate statute, much of that information can become public years after Trump leaves office.

The announcement that the logs would remain secret quickly drew criticism from watchdog groups. "Once again, the Trump White House is stonewalling information that Congress and the American people have a right to see".

CREW said Friday's decision was disappointing, given that Trump repeatedly promised at his raucous campaign rallies to "drain the swamp".

"Trump [White House] cites "grave national security risks" in releasing info [that] Obama made public for 7 years without incident", the National Security Archive tweeted Friday.

The Trump White House said it will shutter a section of the White House website launched by the Obama White House as an effort to streamline transparency for the public, NPR's Domenico Montanaro reported.

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According to Meredith McGehee, policy chief at Issue One, a group which seeks to "reduce the influence of money in politics", the president's early fund-raising may be a response to Democrats, who are expected to raise more money because of distaste for President Trump's policies.

The policy permitted some exceptions to disclosure, including private visits to the Obama family.

Officials said that sensitive meetings - including interviews of potential Supreme Court justices and huddles with top national security officials - were scrubbed from the official records.

Ivanka has announced last month that she would be assuming a White House employee role to assist her father. However, the result of the new policy may have no effect at all. Releasing visitor records was a key initiative put in place by President Obama, and the White House disclosed over 6 million records during his time in office. "He is the least transparent President - ever - and he ran on transparency".

The Associated Press notes the Obama White House began releasing the logs in late 2009, his first year in office, after some litigation.

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White House has said the reason for doing so "is the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually".

He said the "Trump administration has broken new ground in ensuring our government is both ethical and accessible to the American people".

Watchdog groups that have been pressuring the Trump White House to continue the Obama policy have said the Obama practices were not flawless but should continue.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife first lady Melania Trump arrive at his "Liberty" Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC January 20, 2016.

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