None of us remotely expected that Donald Trump—the guy who has kept his tax returns under wraps—would keep up President Obama's practice of disclosing visitor logs to the White House. But a coalition of government watchdog organizations is filing suit Monday in an effort to force the White House to maintain the same level of transparency, writes John Wagner.
Since President Trump took office in January, the website where such records had been publicly available has gone dark, and White House officials will say only that the policy is under review, making no assurances that they will operate with the same openness.
Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the same group whose legal actions led to a settlement with the Obama administration in 2009, opening up the White House visitor logs for the first time.
“It is crucial to understand who is potentially influencing the decision-making of the president, particularly when you have a White House that tends to lean toward secret decision-making,” said Noah Bookbinder, the organization’s executive director.
Following a 2009 negotiation, the Obama White House ultimately disclosed some 6 million visitors in logs kept by the Secret Service and released every 90 to 120 days.
White House visitor logs came back into the public eye after last month's wiretapping fiasco where House Intelligence chair Devin Nunes became an errand boy for the White House. Reporters asked questions for days about who had let Nunes onto White House grounds to view classified materials that he would turn around and supposedly "brief" the pr*sident on the next day. Visitor logs would settle that question once and for all, though reporters have widely zeroed in on White House officials Ezra Cohen-Watnick, John Eisenberg, and Michael Ellis.