Trump Administration Refuses to Release White House Visitor Logs

Via The Washington Post:

The Trump administration announced Friday that it would discontinue former president Barack Obama’s policy of voluntarily disclosing the names of most visitors to the White House complex, citing “grave national security risks and privacy concerns.”

Instead, the Trump administration said it would only release information under far more limited circumstances: for those visiting components of the White House classified under the law as separate agencies, such as the Office of Management and Budget. Under the new policy, it will be up to the White House to decide whether to release names of visitors coming to meet with the president, vice president and their senior staff.

The Trump administration was sued in federal court earlier this week by a coalition of watchdog groups in a bid to compel the same release of records made public under Obama, which were published on a White House-maintained web page.

There are one or more lawsuits now kicking around trying to force the release. Given how judges have been ruling on anything Trump does, I’d be afraid to hazard a guess on what they’ll do. There is probably a campaign speech where Trump promises to be the model of transparency and that will set aside the idea of “law” and “standing.”

I tried really hard to get interested in this but I’m not. I think that the administration has the right to follow the Federal Records Act and does not have a moral, legal, or ethical obligation to release these logs in near-real time simply because Obama did. Having said that, I think that isolation, insularity, and siege mentality don’t serve a president well and it is arguably more important for a president who isn’t terribly popular to be transparent than it is for a popular president. Secrecy breeds suspicion. There should be no one traipsing into the White House that the president is ashamed to have America know he’s meeting. If there is, he should reconsider who he’s meeting with.