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White House to keep visitor logs secret from the public

The records will stay secret for five years after Trump leaves office, the White House said.

 

Andrew Couts

Tech

Published Apr 14, 2017

The Trump administration says it will keep White House visitor logs secret to protect the privacy of those who visit and the national security of the United States, the White House announced on Friday.

The decision to not disclose visitor logs clashes with President Donald Trump‘s campaign promise to reduce special interest influence on the federal government, which he characterized as “draining the swamp,” even as watchdog groups fight to have the visitor record published for the American public. Arguments for transparency appear to have taken a backseat to what the White House describes as more pressing issues.

“Given the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the White House Office will disclose Secret Service logs as outlined under the Freedom of Information Act, a position the Obama White House successfully defended in federal court,” White House communications director Michael Dubke said in a statement.

The U.S. Secret Service maintains logs of anyone who visits the White House grounds.

The administration’s disclosure policy will keep White House logs secret for five years after Trump leaves office. This is a stark change from the Obama administration, which also fought in court to keep some White House visitor records secret but ultimately published many of the visitor logs online in the spirit of transparency. However, some visitor logs were redacted, including those for some judicial appointments, celebrities, and campaign donors.

White House sources tell Time that the administration expects to receive criticism for the policy, but that it was important to allow the president to seek advice from virtually anyone he chooses without sparking public debate.

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*First Published: Apr 14, 2017, 1:52 pm CDT