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 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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