The Trump administration is refusing to release White House visitor logs, a move that concerns transparency advocates.
White House communications director Michael Dubke announced on April 14 that the decision to reverse President Barack Obama's policy of releasing visitor logs online was due to "the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually," notes Time.
Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, called the security and privacy reasons “a White House lie," reports Politico.
"What’s really going on is the swamp suits [President] Donald Trump just fine," Blanton added.
According to Blanton, Obama's White House logs included almost 6 million visitors, and there were no national security problems.
In June 2012, Trump accused Obama via Twitter of being the least transparent president in history: "Why is [Barack Obama] spending millions to try and hide his records? He is the least transparent President--ever--and he ran on transparency."
The Trump administration believes that White House visitor logs don't fall under the Freedom of Information Act, but instead are protected "presidential records," according to Time.
Trump's directive will keep his White House visitor list secret for at least five years after he leaves office.
Trump officials said the Obama administration went to federal court and the U.S. Court of Appeals to preserve the power to redact and withhold records.
The Obama administration did release logs, often with redactions by the White House Counsel’s office.
"This new secrecy policy undermines the rule of law and suggests this White House doesn’t want to be accountable to the American people," said Tom Fitton, president of conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, notes Politico.
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington announced a lawsuit against the Trump Administration:
It’s disappointing that the man who promised to "drain the swamp" just took a massive step away from transparency by refusing the release the White House visitor logs... that provide indispensable information about who is seeking to influence the president. This week, we sued the Trump administration to make sure they would continue to release the logs. It looks like we’ll see them in court.
"The only reason to keep secret the White House visitor logs is to hide from the American public the corporate influence-peddlers who are seeking favors and gifts from the White House," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. "More secrecy equals more cronyism, more insider dealing and more corruption."
Several organizations are suing to compel the administration to hand over visitor logs from the White House, and from Trump's homes in Florida and New York City.