White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s decision not to release White House visitor logs during his time in office.
During Spicer’s daily press briefing, the Daily Caller’s Kaitlan Collins asked the press secretary why the Trump administration hadn’t opted to match former President Barack Obama’s policy of voluntarily releasing White House visitor logs, with some exceptions.
“We’re following the law as both the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act prescribe it,” Spicer said, referring to laws that mandate the preservation of government records, but not the release of White House visitor logs during a president’s term in office. “So it’s the same policy that every administration had up until the Obama administration.”
Spicer referred to the voluntary release of visitor logs by the Obama administration as a “faux attempt” at transparency, given that the public logs carried exemptions for personal visits, national security matters and other sensitive meetings.
“When you go through and you scrub everyone’s name out that you don’t want everyone to know, that really is not an honest attempt to doing it,” he said of the Obama-era policy.
He also said that the Trump administration acknowledged “there’s a privacy aspect to allowing citizens to come express their views.”
A handful of members of Congress have sought to force the White House’s hand with the Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness (MAR-A-LAGO) Act, which would require that visitor logs be released, with similar exceptions as the Obama policy, from anywhere the President “regularly conducts official business.”
The comings and goings of the Trump White House have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) admitted on March 27 that he met with unnamed sources on White House grounds before claiming the following day that Trump affiliates’ information may have been included incidentally in the surveillance of foreign actors. Nunes subsequently stepped aside from the committee’s investigations of possible connections between Russian officials and Trump affiliates.
And on March 21, Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America, published pictures of herself meeting with a White House legislative staffer at the White House. A White House official confirmed the meeting to TPM only after the pictures were made public.