(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
The Trump administration will keep the records of who visits the White House secret, ending a practice started under the Obama administration of partially releasing visitor logs, a White House official said Friday.
Even though President Trump led chants of “drain the swamp” during the campaign and promised to protect government business from special interests, the decision makes it harder for the public to know who is influencing the president and his close advisors.
Keeping the visitor logs hidden from public view will protect the privacy of visitors and is meant to address security risks that may be posed if people are identified publicly as close to Trump, White House communications director Mike Dubke said Friday.
The public and the press will be able to file requests for the logs under the Freedom of Information Act, Dubke said. Such requests often require legal action that can delay the release of records for several years.
"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,” Dubke said in a statement.
The U.S. Secret Service conducts background checks and keeps a list of all visitors to the 18-acre White House grounds.
The Obama administration voluntarily released some visitor records, but often omitted the names of visitors that Obama’s aides considered sensitive such as candidates for judicial posts, as well as personal contacts, including celebrities and some Obama campaign donors.
(Jim Lo Scalzo / Associated Press) Donald Trump signed a law Thursday that allows states to deny certain federal funding to Planned Parenthood. (AFP/Getty Images) (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press) Hawaii Atty. Gen. Doug Chin at a news conference about Hawaii’s legal challenge to President Trump’s travel ban.