White House decides against releasing visitor records

The White House

Paul S. Ryan, president of Common Cause, added, "Donald Trump is charged with doing the people's business, but by keeping his visitors logs a secret, the people will have no idea who he is doing business with at the White House".

The Trump administration will not make its records of visitors to the White House available to the public, Time and The Washington Post reported Friday.

This is in contrast to the Obama administration's policy of releasing the White House visitor's log, a practice that they began in 2009 after facing a number of complaints.

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The names and personal information of visitors to the 18-acre White House complex are logged by the Workers and Visitor Entry System, known as WAVES, which is operated by the US Secret Service and determines who can gain access to the complex.

"The only reasonable conclusion is to believe the Trump administration has many things it is trying to hide", the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement, also referencing the administration's relationship with the media. "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".

The Trump administration was sued in federal court earlier this week by a coalition of watchdog groups to compel the release of the White House visitor logs.

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The Trump administration announced Friday that it would not disclose the logs, citing "grave national security risks and privacy concerns", according to The Washington Post. If the public does not know who is visiting the White House, they can not know who has the ear of Trump and his team, potentially influencing policy and other major decisions. The most obvious is Trump's brazen hypocrisy, for which there is no credible excuse.

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. By closing the site, the White House estimates it will save over $70,000 in taxpayer dollars by 2020. Under the new policy, records will be kept private for at least five years after Trump leaves the White House.

Those exemptions, said Blanton, demonstrate that the previous system allowed for transparency without compromising national security or privacy concerns.

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"Congress made clear that it did not want documents like the appointment calendars of the President and his close advisers to be subject to disclosure", Merrick Garland, chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, wrote at the time.

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