In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the National Security Archive, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Secret Service officials are reporting that keeping track of visitors to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is going to be difficult.
Mainly, because there are no visitor logs, and no system set up since Trump’s election that would adequately track who has access to the president while he’s spending time at what he has called “the southern White House.”
In September, in answer to the lawsuit, Trump’s administration released a page or two of names, mostly related to the visit earlier this year by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but nothing more.
Said the Secret Service official responding to the FOIA lawsuit:
“The…search and review of records confirmed that there is no system for keeping track of Presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago, as there is at the White House Complex,” Special Agent Kim Campbell wrote.
“Specifically, it was determined that there is no grouping, listing or set of records that would reflect Presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago.”
The question now could logically turn to if there is a duty to set up visitor logs for Trump’s resorts, since he spends as much time there as he does at the White House, and in some instances, as we saw with Abe, conducts official government business at these locations.
With the Russia probe and Trump’s administration under intense scrutiny, having visitor logs isn’t just necessary, but could also serve to help Trump, by eliminating the perception of him as a Nixonesque paranoid with something to hide.
Where CREW and the other organizations seeking answers will go now remains to be seen.