Politics

Udall: Congress Should Compel White House to Release Visitor Logs

New Mexico Democrat hits Trump over decision to keep records secret

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall is the sponsor of the MAR-A-LAGO Act. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One Democratic senator says Congress should require the White House to release its visitor records, after the administration announced Friday the logs would be kept secret.

The Trump administration cited security and privacy concerns in its decision to not publicly release its visitor logs. The decision, first reported by Time magazine, differs from the Obama administration, which publicly released its visitor records — though those logs were subject to redaction.

“The president’s promise to ‘drain the swamp’ has never rung more hollow than it does today,” Sen. Tom Udall said in a statement Friday. “If President [Donald] Trump won’t release this critical information on his own, then Congress must compel him to do so.”

[Democrats Ask Secret Service About Background Checks at Mar-a-Lago]

The New Mexico Democrat is the sponsor of the “Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act,” or the MAR-A-LAGO Act. The bill would require the Trump administration to release records of who visits places where the president is conducting business, including the White House and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf club in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump often spends weekends in Florida and has held meetings with senior officials and foreign dignitaries including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“This stunning decision from the Trump White House raises an obvious question: What is President Trump trying to hide?” Udall said. “Once again, this administration is stonewalling information that Congress and the American people have a right to see. Americans simply deserve to know who has access to the president and who is working to influence policy at the highest levels.”

The bill would provide for a database of visitor records updated every 90 days. Udall’s bill has two Senate Democratic co-sponsors, Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, both of Rhode Island. The bill is unlikely to move forward in the GOP-controlled Congress. 

The Trump administration is also reportedly no longer operating open.gov, a site that hosted the Obama administration’s visitor records. The Obama White House released the records amid lawsuits demanding the information be made public. Trump is facing similar pressure.

On Monday, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued the Department of Homeland Security under the Freedom of Information Act to get visitor logs from the White House, Mar-a-Lago and Trump Tower in New York.

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