Society

White House To Keep Visitor Records Secret

In a break from the Obama presidency, the Trump administration will now no longer be making public it's White House visitor logs.

Such records catalog when information is submitted to the secret service by an individual who lacks permanent credentials, according to CNN Politics.

White House Communications Director Michael Dubke backed up the secrecy of this information in light of "grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually."

On August 30, 2013, a federal appeals court ruled that White House visitor logs would not be subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and were therefore not mandated to be released to the public, according to USA Today.

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The Trump presidency is taking advantage of that decision in order to protect these records from the public eye.

The White House, under former President Barack Obama, voluntarily released nearly 6 million records of its visitors. This decision to make visitor records more transparent followed after lawsuits pressured the White House to publicize visitor comings and goings.

In a set of circumstances reminiscent of those of the Obama administration, the Trump administration was sued by watchdog organizations demanding that White House visitor logs be made transparent to the public.

"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 and that provide indispensable information about who is seeking to influence the president," said Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of the Citizens of Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, one of the organizations involved in legal action against the secrecy of White House visitor logs.

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"The Obama administration agreed to release the visitor logs in response to our lawsuits, and despite the Trump administration's worry over 'grave national security risks and concerns,' only positives for the American people came out of them. This week, we sued the Trump administration to make sure they would continue to release the logs. It looks like we'll see them in court."

Dubke supported the new privacy practices, and explained that it did not come at the expense of the Trump administration's overall transparency.

"By instituting historic restrictions on lobbying to close the revolving door, expanding and elevating ethics within the White House Counsel's office, and opening the White House press briefing room to media outlets that otherwise cannot gain access, the Trump administration has broken new ground in ensuring our government is both ethical and accessible to the American people," said Dubke.

Sources: CNN Politics, USA TodayThe White House / Photo Credit: Julian Fong/Flickr