White House decides against releasing visitor records

The list of visitors to President Donald Trump's White House will not be made available to the public - a departure from the policy of former President Barack Obama during his eight years in office.

This decision, which the administration says will save taxpayers money while cutting down on security and privacy risks, has drawn fast criticism from open government advocates. The groups see the visitor logs as important tools for monitoring which individuals or groups may be trying to influence White House policy.

Trump has been widely criticized for a lack of openness for refusing to release his tax returns, breaking with decades of precedent.

White House communications director Michael Dubke said the decision to reverse the Obama-era policy was due to "the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually".

In this photo taken February 2, 2017, the White House in Washington seen from the South Lawn. The White House is exempt from the law.

CREW's lawsuit, which was joined by the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, seeks access to visitor logs from the White House, Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and Trump Tower in New York City.

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The Obama administration initially fought attempts by Congress and conservative and liberal groups to obtain visitor records. Earlier this month, liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed suit in the Southern District of NY against the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Secret Service, for access to the logs on the same grounds. "This week, we sued the Trump administration to make sure they would continue to release the logs".

In addition to the things Trump and his administration have done to reduce firearm regulations, one can not overlook the importance of nominating and securing the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The Obama administration eventual released almost 6 million visitor records.

One recent visitor to White House grounds recently resulted in a scandal: House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, who went to White House grounds last month to view classified information.

The Trump team's decision came days after three groups filed suit against the administration demanding release of visitor records to the White House, Trump Tower in NY, and the president's Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

Logs for the Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy remain subject to FOIA requests, officials said, but will not be unilaterally disclosed.

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