Watchdogs Sue For White House Visitor Logs

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A group of  watchdog organizations is suing the Department of Homeland Security for refusing to release visitor logs from the White House, as well as President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and Trump Tower in Manhattan.

The suit, filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan, accuses the Secret Service, which maintains the logs, of breaking the law by refusing several Freedom of Information Act requests to provide the information. It demands that the logs immediately be made available. 

Visitor logs would provide important insight into people who may be seeking to curry favor with the president and his team. Former President Barack Obama began voluntarily releasing visitor logs in 2009 after similar lawsuits, and declared that “Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process.” By the time Obama left office, his administration had released nearly 6 million records.

Under the Obama policy, visitor records were to include names, dates, times and who was visited.  

The White House website where the logs had been available currently has no records. It shows a message that logs will be posted “on an ongoing basis, once they become available.” 

Eight senators wrote to Trump and Secret Service Deputy Director William Callahan last month requesting that the logs be released. “It would be a significant setback to efforts to give the public insight into who influences the White House if this policy were to be discontinued or limited,” the senators warned.

The suit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive, researcher Kate Doyle, and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

The Department of Homeland Security has commented on the suit.

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