President Joe Biden‘s team on Friday posted its first round of White House visitor logs while signaling a return of regular releases last seen during the Obama administration.
“This release was made in accordance with the reinstated policy to voluntarily disclose White House visitor logs,” the White House said in a statement, which added that the disclosures would take place on a monthly basis.
The list names 400 visitors who came to the White House between Jan. 20-31. It included seven individuals who visited the Oval Office during that time, including Director of National Intelligence Chief of Staff Charles Luftig and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s wife, Charlene.
In pledging to release a regular list of names of White House visitors, the Biden administration is reverting to a policy of former President Barack Obama’s administration, which released archived logs of visitors throughout his presidency. The White House under former President Donald Trump eschewed the practice.
“In keeping with the Obama-Biden Administration’s policy, select records that implicate privacy, national security, or other concerns will be withheld,” the White House statement added, providing a link to a disclosure page.
Despite the touting its transparency effort, the Biden administration does not plan to release the names of virtual meeting attendees. A large sum of White House meetings have been held virtually over Zoom calls due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“As vaccinations increase and the pandemic response continues to make progress, we look forward to welcoming many more visitors onto the White House campus and back into the People’s House,” the White House said in its statement.
During Trump’s presidency, the White House framed its refusal to regularly disclose meeting guests as a matter of national security.
Although the White House is not subject to public disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act, transparency groups criticized Trump for his policy and sued his administration for access. The Trump administration agreed to post visitor logs for some White House offices as part of a settlement in February 2018.
The names of Trump’s visitors at the White House and his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida during his presidency can remain hidden for at least five years from his last day in office, according to an appeals court decision in May.
Author : Kaelan Deese