Since Donald Trump took office in January, the website where the White House visitor’s log had been publicly available for everyone to see has gone dark.
During the Obama administration, nearly 6 million names of White House visitors were made public. But Trump’s White House officials say that the policy is “under review,” making no assurances that Trump will operate with the same openness Obama did.
So, what’s Donald Trump hiding? Who’s visiting the White House? Well, several watchdog groups are suing to find out.
A coalition of government watchdog groups announced they plan to sue the Trump administration on Monday with the aim of compelling the White House to continue President Barack Obama’s practice of releasing logs of lobbyists and others who visit the complex, the Washington Post reported.
Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, according to the ireport.
“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.
Last week, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to say whether the Trump administration would continue that practice. Other White House officials have argued that Trump should be permitted to conduct meetings outside the public eye.
In the lawsuit, which is being filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the plaintiffs say their interest in Trump visitor records extends far beyond the White House complex, given that the president often holds meetings at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and other properties he owns in the New York and Washington areas.
It is unclear what kind of records the Secret Service generates regarding members and guests at Mar-a-Lago, which is a private club, when Trump is on the property. Blanton said the agency should have a similar logging system in place there.
“Either they have one or they should have one,” Blanton said. “Maybe this lawsuit will speed up the process of getting such a system in place.”
A spokesman for the department declined to comment Sunday.