The Trump administration says it has changed the previous administration’s policy of releasing the names of White House visitors due to security and privacy concerns.
The Trump administration says it will not make public the names of those visiting the White House, reversing the Obama administration’s policy.
White House communications director Michael Dubke said in a statement that the decision was due to the "the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually," NPR’s Scott Horsley reports.
Dubke added that the logs would be disclosed "as outlined under the Freedom of Information Act." FOIA does not apply to the president or his immediate staff.
Trump administration says it will stop making White House visitor logs public, reversing Obama’s (incomplete) transparency push. pic.twitter.com/xtE6zn9IWJ
— scott horsley (@HorsleyScott) April 14, 2017
Watchdog groups immediately criticized the decision, with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) calling it a "massive step away from transparency."
"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.
It’s worth noting that former President Barack Obama did not pledge to release these records until eight months into his presidency. "For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis," Obama stated at the time, calling it a sign of the openness and transparency of his administration.
At the same time, the Center for Public Integrity has questioned the completeness of the Obama records, as The Two-Way reported.
CREW said it filed a lawsuit this week against the Trump administration "to make sure they would continue to release the logs." It says the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University are also part of the lawsuit.
As we reported, CREW also filed lawsuits against the Obama administration before it said it would release the meeting details.
The Trump White House will also 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. The Trump White House calls it "duplicative."
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