The Trump administration will not release White House visitor logs, a move that stands in stark contrast to its predecessor’s policy, officials announced Friday, April 14.
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 Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at making government more accountable and transparent, questioned if Trump’s was the “least transparent administration ever.”
Since President Donald Trump took office in January, the group has denounced and flagged a number of subsequent changes to federal transparency policies, including the removal of transition data and of many open data sets, among other issues.
White House Communications Director Michael Dubke emphasized other efforts to bolster accessibility in a statement.
"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," Dubke said in the statement. "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."
Time magazine, which first reported the decision, said visitor logs will still be kept, but members of the public and press won’t have access to them until at least five years after Trump leaves office. This decision comes after months of speculation over the fate of the logs.
Under President Obama, the White House first waged a court battle for the right to keep visitor logs secret, before later voluntarily releasing them. Ultimately the previous administration published the names of more than 5 million visitors to the White House.