Mar-a-Lago Visitor Logs To Be Released By DHS, Watchdog Groups Optimistic

ALAN DIAZ/AP

The Department of Homeland Security will release Mar-a-Lago visitor records as part of an ongoing lawsuit from three watchdog groups.

In a statement on its website, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said it would make the records public “upon receiving them by September 8th.”

On April 10, CREW, the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued the Department of Homeland Security for visitor records to the White House, Trump Tower and President Donald Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club, which frequently hosts official business including diplomatic visits by foreign leaders.

The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, cited multiple Freedom of Information Act requests that it alleged had been ignored by the Secret Service.

According to CREW, the DHS has said that it has no visitor records for Trump Tower, Trump’s New York City home base that was vaulted into the news yet again last week when Donald Trump Jr. revealed he met with a Russian lawyer and others there after being promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide his father’s campaign.

The lawsuit for the White House’s visitor records, the group said, was ongoing.

“The public deserves to know who is coming to meet with the president and his staff,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in the statement on the group’s website Monday. “We are glad that as a result of this case, this information will become public for meetings at his his personal residences—but it needs to be public for meetings at the White House as well.”

“It’s a promising first step that the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to release information on Mar-a-Lago’s visitors, but what might be in these disclosures is a mystery,” Alex Abdo, senior staff attorney at the Knight Institute, said in a statement. “The government does not appear to keep regular records of presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago or Trump Tower, and it continues to argue that it need not disclose more formal records of visitors to the White House. In our view, the Freedom of Information Act requires the government to make this information – which relates to who exerts influence over the president — available to the public, and we intend to fight for its release.”

CREW sued the Obama White House for the same records, resulting in the administration releasing that information on an ongoing basis beginning in 2009.

The Trump administration announced in April that it would stop releasing White House visitor data.

Read the latest court order below:

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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