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Trump Is Keeping His White House Visitor Log Under Wraps

Members of the public won't be able to request to see who stopped by the White House for at least five years after Trump leaves office.

by Lauren Messman
Apr 14 2017, 7:27pm

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Trump administration decided to break with another Obama-era rule on Friday and announced it would keep all the White House visitor logs private, meaning the public won't have access to who's stopping by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue until after the president leaves office, TIME reports.

The administration sees the Workers and Visitors Entry System, which usually falls under the care of the US Secret Service, as "presidential records" and ineligible for Freedom of Information Act requests. The move was confirmed Friday by White House communications director Michael Dubke, who told TIME that the decision to keep the logs under wraps was due to "the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually."

During Obama's term, the administration voluntarily published more than 6 million records containing most of its visitors on the website Open.gov, which became available about three months after they had stopped by. The only exceptions were some celebrity visitors, top donors, or those in for a private, personal meeting, like potential nominees. That website also published the salaries of various White House staff, as well as appointments, in an effort to promote transparency.

Not only is the Trump administration shutting that website down, promising to transfer some of that info to WhiteHouse.gov, but members of the public won't be able to request to see the visitor logs for at least five years after Trump leaves office.

It's not clear, however, if the same rules will apply to visitors of the "Winter Whitehouse," or Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he's spent 17 days since taking office. Democrats in Congress are after the club's visitor logs with a bill they've appropriately named the "Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act," or MAR-A-LAGO Act.