Trump shrouds government in cloak of secrecy

The Trump administration is breaking six years of tradition by refusing to release White House visitor logs. Instead, a spokesperson said those records will stay secret until at least five years after Trump leaves office.

“Given the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the White House Office will disclose Secret Service logs as outlined under the Freedom of Information Act, a position the Obama White House successfully defended in federal court,” said Mike Dubke, communications director

That explanation went over poorly with most observers.

“Trump is trying to shield his activities from public view because instead of draining the swamp, his administration is auctioning off taxpayer assets, tax breaks for the rich and perhaps even lives lost in military adventures,” said good government advocate Lisa McCormick.

“From dismissing decades of tradition by declining to release his tax returns to refusing to place his assets in a blind trust, President Trump seems to be going out of his way to fan distrust and doubt about the way his White House works,” said Meredith McGehee, the policy chief at Issue One, a group that wants to reduce the influence of money in politics.

“It’s disappointing that the man who promised to ‘drain the swamp’ just took a massive step away from transparency by refusing to release the White House visitor logs that the American people have grown accustomed to accessing over the last six years and that provide indispensable information about who is seeking to influence the president,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

“The Obama administration agreed to release the visitor logs in response to our lawsuits, and despite the Trump administration’s worry over ‘grave national security risks and concerns,’ only positives for the American people came out of them,” said Bookbinder.

“This week, we sued the Trump administration to make sure they would continue to release the logs. It looks like we’ll see them in court,” said Bookbinder, whose group joined two other advocates of government transparency — the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University — to file suit against the administration demanding release of visitor records to the White House, Trump Tower in New York, and the president’s Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

Click here to read the lawsuit that alleges the failure to release the records violates the Freedom of Information Act.

 

The Trump administration shut down a website disclosing a wide range of data and returned a cloak of secrecy over the basic day-to-day workings of the government.

The Obama administration voluntarily released more than 6 million records of visitor during its eight years in office.

According to the New York Times, in the first months of the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, 158 families and companies they own or control contributed $176 million to candidates in both major parties. Most of that money came through channels that are only legal due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which allowed unlimited spending on politics by corporations and nonprofits.

 


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