Society

Watchdogs Attack White House On Visitor Logs

| by Jordan Smith

Watchdogs have criticized the White House after it announced April 14 it would not be making public its visitor logs.

Conservative group Judicial Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union were two organizations that spoke out, according to The Washington Post.

White House communications director Mike Dubke said in a statement the decision was made due to the "grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually." 

Conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, which was part of a lawsuit against the Obama administration on the issue of White House visitor logs, attacked the decision.

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"Judicial Watch is disappointed with the Trump White House decision to keep secret the names of White House visitors," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, Newsmax reported.

"President Trump should simply allow the Secret Service to apply FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to its White House visitor logs. The Secret Service can protect the personal privacy of some visitors while also upholding the rule of law," Fitton added.

Rejecting this, the Trump administration contends the records belong to the White House, giving it the prerogative not to release details about all visitors. This was the position argued by the Obama administration in a 2012 lawsuit.

The White House will no longer voluntarily publish visitor logs on its website as the Obama administration did. This move will save the taxpayer $70,000 by 2020, the administration said.

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Earlier in the week, several watchdog groups brought a lawsuit against the Trump administration in federal court to force the release of visitor logs.

The issue of visitor logs has gained increased attention since Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California went to the White House in March to view classified information which he subsequently used to brief President Donald Trump.

ACLU Political Director Faiz Shakir also took issue with the April 14 decision.

"Elected officials work for the people, and we deserve to see government business conducted in transparent daylight," Shakir said. "This Good Friday news dump is simply the latest in a series of efforts by President Trump to avoid public accountability, and it's not the way to improve the people's declining trust in this administration."

The ACLU did not restrict itself to the issue of the logs.

"Trump has bullied the press when they report on him," an ACLU statement added, reports The Hill. "He has promoted the reporting of fake and outright false information. He imposed gags on federal employees in the earliest days of his administration. He has avoided disclosing his tax records and avoided releasing information about his conflicts of interest."

Sources: The Washington Post, Newsmax, The Hill / Photo credit: US Department of the Interior

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