The Trump administration has decided to keep White House visitor logs confidential, a change in policy from the previous Obama administration.
The White House justified the decision by saying that “grave national security risks and privacy concerns” were the main issues. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the new policy by saying the previous administration’s choice to release the visitor logs was a “faux” attempt at transparency.
“We recognize that there’s a privacy aspect to allowing citizens to come express their views. And that’s why we maintain the same policy that every other administration did coming up here prior to the last one,” Spicer said.
“And the last one, frankly, was a faux level of doing that, because when you go through, and you scrub everyone’s name out that you don’t want everyone to know, that really is not an honest attempt at doing it.”
The Obama administration broke years of protocol by releasing the logs, but maintained the right to scrub any names of a “sensitive” nature. According to the Washington Post, the policy included withholding names of Supreme Court nominees that visited the White House.
President Trump’s young administration has struggled with transparency issues, and this decision to mask all visitors received quite a bit of push-back from different watchdog groups.
Judicial Watch’s president Tom Fitton was disappointed by the policy reversal.
“This new secrecy policy undermines the rule of law and suggests this White House doesn’t want to be accountable to the American people,” Fitton said.
The ACLU also strongly condemned the policy, saying, “Elected officials work for the people and we deserve to see government business conducted”.
President Trump, circa 2012, also had an opinion on transparency, tweeting:
Apparently that view has changed.
[Washington Post] [Reuters] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Carlos Barria/Reuters]