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Trump Decides Not to Release White House Visitor Records

Trump Decides Not to Release White House Visitor Records

How do I transparency?

President Donald Trump has decided not to release White House visitor records, breaking from former President Barack Obama. The Wall Street Journal reported:

Under President Donald Trump’s policy, formally announced on Friday, the U.S. Secret Service will maintain visitor logs only for certain executive branch offices, including the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Those logs won’t be regularly released, but rather will be subject to requests under federal open records laws.

Under the new policy, which was first reported Friday by Time magazine, the names of visitors who meet with the president, Vice President Mike Pence or senior staff at the White House will be kept secret until at least five years after Mr. Trump leaves office.

Communications Director Michael Dubke explained that the administration came to this decision because of the “grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”

You can still ask for visitor logs through a Freedom of Information Act request for the Office of Managament and Budget and U.S. Trade Representative.

The White House also said that closing Open.gov will “save $700,000 over the next three years.”

Former President Barack Obama published White House visitor logs online and updated it every 90-120 days. Officials only blacked out “names of people brought in for sensitive meetings or personal matters.” That small decision led to criticisms, but at least he published the majority of names. Records show some six million names published during his eight years in the White House.

On the campaign trail, Trump often pushed for more transparency. He even called Obama the “the least transparent president-ever” back in 2012.

Needless to say, this has not pleased many groups that advocate for more transparency. Judicial Watch issued this statement via email:

“Judicial Watch is disappointed with the Trump White House decision to keep secret the names of White House visitors. Unfortunately, this move is perfectly in line with the policy of the Obama White House to prevent these visitors logs from being processed and released under the Freedom of Information Act. President Trump should simply allow the Secret Service to apply FOIA to its White House visitor logs. The Secret Service can protect the personal privacy of some visitors while upholding the rule of law. This new secrecy policy undermines the rule of law and suggests this White House doesn’t want to be accountable to the American people.”

Other groups expressed displeasure. From The Hill:

“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 the American people have grown accustomed to accessing over the last six years,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a statement.

Bookbinder said the records “provide indispensable information about who is seeking to influence the president.”

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Comments

They can’t release it. The visitor log is computerized and it keeps crashing from all the Cyrillic characters in the visitor names.

This is not good. We wouldn’t have accepted it if it was Obama, and we shouldn’t accept it from Trump. I sincerely hope he reverses course on this one. Although I do note that it’s being reported by Time Mag, so it could be completely fake news. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    Petrushka in reply to Helen. | April 14, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Obama’s policy. Obama released just the names he wanted released.

    tom swift in reply to Helen. | April 14, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    But we did accept it when it was Obama. The only names in the logs were the ones nobody would get excited about.

    Officials only blacked out “names of people brought in for sensitive meetings or personal matters”

    In other words, only the important ones were kept secret.

    That’s like praising Obama for his honesty because he didn’t lie about absolutely everything, just important stuff. Like your health plan, and the Persian atomic bomb program. Kid stuff like his golf schedule and the Easter egg roll and which expensive act would appear at the White House’s Friday night bash, hey, he didn’t lie about that stuff—what a guy! A paragon of probity!

    Petrushka in reply to Helen. | April 14, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Actually, this is another multi-dimensional chess move, because it forces the press to talk about Obama’s altering the logs.

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Petrushka. | April 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Touche!

      Another Trump Troll trump card over the Lie-Stream Democrat Party Media……..

Frankly I don’t really care. Making the logs public just means Trump will meet with them at locations other than the White House.

Obama was caught lying and altering the logs to try and hide meetings with people because he was too dumb to do that.

    MarkSmith in reply to Olinser. | April 14, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Totally agree. Who gives a Rats ass about it. Look if you thing he is crooked, he is. To do as many construction projects that he has, I would not be surprised anyways. I am surprise how little they have on him so far.

    I really don’t care. As long as he gets my taxes and healthcare premiums down and puts North Korea in place, I win.

    It will be funny if he pulls off NK. It has been over 50 years and they still have not got it right. If he pull that one off, nobody is going to care about the visit log.

    If Kim and Assad are gone by June, heads will explode.

Congress should pass a law compelling the Executive to publish ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL logs unless a compelling reason is articulated why not, and thst should be subject to challenge by any citizen.

    mariner in reply to Ragspierre. | April 14, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    And any American President should give Congress the finger, “Come and take them”.

    How about logs of the visitors of all Senators, Congressmen and their staffs, and all Supreme Court Justices and clerks?

      Ragspierre in reply to mariner. | April 14, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      OK. I’m good.

      Don’t ever let me see you post again about sunlight being the best disinfectant.

      T-rump is swamping the drain, and you guys are all for it.

      Pitiful.

The program—attack Trump constantly, in all ways, in manners trivial or, if necessary, imaginary—means that anyone who appears in publicly-accessible logs will be pursued and hounded mercilessly by our malevolent press. It won’t take long to notice this, and nobody except masochists will visit the White House at all—unless perhaps the visitor has a security detail which is adept at things like “accidentally” smashing cameras and a few heads.

Then the press can trumpet that Trump is being shunned by both the general public and Washington officialdom. They’ll harass visitors to Trump Tower and Mar-a-lago, too. There’s essentially no limitation to the harassment our Press can inflict on the innocent.

C’mon, this stuff is obvious—wake up.

Trump’s just announced that he won’t make it easy for them to do this. One would have to be a pretty unimaginative clod to think that’s somehow bad.

    Ragspierre in reply to tom swift. | April 14, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Ew, yeah. Secrecy is Kuhl. Because suck T-rump!

      Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | April 14, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      It was “Kuhl” for those other presidents, the ones you voted for.

        Ragspierre in reply to Barry. | April 14, 2017 at 9:39 pm

        You’ll tell any lie to suck that T-rump…!!!

          Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | April 14, 2017 at 11:02 pm

          You voted for Bush. He kept the logs secret. Even fought it in court.

          In fact, there has never been a president that released the logs, including Obama. Obama only released what he wanted, to fool fools like you.

          Calling everyone a liar is just projection on your part.

        Ragspierre in reply to Barry. | April 15, 2017 at 10:52 am

        No, Butt-hurt Barri.

        The lie is that I think that secrecy is acceptable (except in a very limited realm), regardless of who or what the office.

        Or that I ever did.

        But this is another of the inversions of stated principle some of you made to suck T-rump.

        I find it instructive. I find Mark Smith’s apologia particularly revealing. And stupid.

          Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | April 15, 2017 at 12:13 pm

          “The lie is…”

          No, Butt-hurt raggsy, I never said that. Not even remotely.

          Once again you attempt, poorly, to deflect from the facts. You supported and never complained publicly about the past presidents you voted for not releasing the WH visitor logs.

          Simple fact.

          I’m fine with releasing them. I’m also fine with not. I can see the issues in something other that a dogmatic way. There is a cost in releasing them. It may very well keep some people from visiting the WH to give their opinion/expertise to a president, knowing they will be hounded for doing so. It may keep the president from inviting certain people for the same reasons. Everything is not done in the open, publicly, for good reasons.

          TDS, that’s all it is for people like you.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | April 15, 2017 at 3:46 pm

          “Simple fact.”

          You are a lying sack pf excrement. Prove it.

          But this whole riff is anOTHER of your red herrings.

          Provide us a link where YOU protested Obama’s practice in 2009 or condemned Bush in any of his eight years in office on the same issue.

          What matters is no your or my history on the subject, but what you advocate NOW, and why.

          My position is NOT tied to Der Donald, but to the principle of open government. You either support it or you don’t.

          You’ve made it clear that your thinking all hinges on Der Donald, the Great God Cheeto you suck.

          Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | April 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm

          “Provide us a link where YOU protested Obama’s practice in 2009 or condemned Bush in any of his eight years in office on the same issue.”

          I didn’t.

          You continue to make up strawmen in your attempt to make Trump your boogeyman. I’m not the one complaining, you are. You can’t answer the charge, because you can’t. It’s all TDS, all the time. You are deranged with hatred.

          Now your against any secrecy in government WH logs, because Trump. But you never complained before…

          I see both sides of the issue. And have no idea which is better in the long term scheme of things. Transparency is good, right up until it is not. Do I want the enemies of the USA to know from the daily log when the generals are meeting the president? Probably not, among other possibilities already mentioned.

          You’re just a hater. Simple as that. It’s warped your brain beyond all reason.

          Liars. Projection.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | April 15, 2017 at 7:34 pm

          “Now your against any secrecy in government WH logs, because Trump. But you never complained before…”

          I’ll just let that stinking sack of bullshit hang there, for all to see.

          Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | April 15, 2017 at 10:13 pm

          “I’ll just let…”

          It’s obvious to everyone but you.

    amatuerwrangler in reply to tom swift. | April 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    What Tom said. The press only wants names so they can harass the visitors and make up things about why the visit was for some nefatious reason… “Oh, look… this lady went with a Chamber of Commerce trip to Cuba last year… sounds like the communist connection, so Russia must have hacked the election…”

    The press has no one to blame for this than themselves.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to tom swift. | April 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks Tom, you have it Exactly Right.

    Just remember what the Evil MSM did to Sarah Palin and Family.

I see no need to “publish” WH visitor logs. As noted, they will be available as permitted by open records laws and FOIA requests. We’ll have to see just how extensive masking or refusal to release will be. At this point, it is no big deal.

    MarkSmith in reply to Mac45. | April 14, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Hey, if it save me $10 bucks off my taxes because it reduced the budget by 700 K, I am cool with that.

The FOIA request is going to put money in the coffers of the court systems too. Win-Win.

    Ragspierre in reply to MarkSmith. | April 15, 2017 at 11:03 am

    You’re an obvious moron. Lawsuits don’t “put money in the coffers of the court”. Filing fees don’t begin to cover the costs imposed on the court in even the most modest lawsuit.

    But a FOIA lawsuit is a net expense to the government that opposes providing information to the people is it supposed to be serving.

    They are also often wars of attrition, waged against the relatively weakly funded group bringing a FOIA request.

    The crap you’ve slathered in defense of this move shows you to be an unprincipled utilitarian Collectivist with a few rightist positions.

I wonder if fear of being harassed by the loony left is keeping people with important information / alternate views away from the White House.

inspectorudy | April 15, 2017 at 4:57 am

Wow! With all that’s going on in the world today and Time comes out with this staggering news! What will they report on next, the homeless on the rise?

Obama was the first, and apparently last, president to release the WH visitor logs to the public. The only transparent thing about that decision was the fact that Obama wanted only the appearance of transparency.

As we all know, the logs were redacted, altered, and otherwise crafted to obscure, hide, or eliminate those names that the Obama admin didn’t want made public. We all knew that would happen, and it did. Indeed, note that even Obama stopped pushing his smoke and mirror visitor log releases as evidence of his administration’s transparency.

I’m just fine with Trump ditching this dishonest Obama policy that was an insult to our intelligence in the first place.

    Ragspierre in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | April 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

    But that isn’t the choice.

    Nobody would advocate a dishonest policy, so that’s a straw-man argument.

    The choice is between a much more open government…at all levels…or a more obscured government.

      The choice is between keeping a ridiculous Obama policy that was created with the sole purpose of creating a facade of transparency and opting not to do so for the same reasons that all presidents prior to Obama had for not doing so.

      All visitor logs are still available to the public via FOIA and all will be released–as always–five (I think) years after the president leaves office.

      Do you really care that a precedent set by Obama is not being continued? Did you celebrate Obama’s transparency when this policy was announced and subsequently blew up in his face? Maybe you did. To me, it seems ridiculous to insist that Trump adhere to it. This isn’t something the Constitution demands, that any president prior to Obama did, or that serves any real purpose given the ease with which these logs can be requested (and then, too, they will have names redacted just as Obama’s “transparent” logs did).

      Shrug. Frankly, I don’t see the big deal here. If he releases them, fine. If not, that’s also fine (with me, at least).

        Ragspierre in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | April 15, 2017 at 12:06 pm

        Well, you managed to argue all around the question, raising more fallacious arguments, and never dealt with the real choice…

        a MORE open government at all levels, or a more obscured government, continuing the trend of moving officers and officeholders AWAY from the people they are ostensibly serving.

        BTW, are you seriously arguing that it’s “easy” to GET (not request) ANYTHING via a FOIA action? Because that would be very disappointing.

Transparency isn’t an all or nothing. Security isn’t an all or nothing either. Each must be balanced, differing opinions on that are fine – but let’s quit name calling.

This is a win for some lawyers. Every month all the logs will be asked for multiple times in FOIA requests. They will be slow to be delivered, and things will end up in court. Every log will be released, some redactions will take place, and lots of legal fees will be earned. Costs government money and a few lawyers will have billable hours.

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