Feb. 15, 2018
Win: Trump Administration Settles Lawsuit Over Visitor Logs; Information Will Be Released to the Public
Trump’s Secret Service Was Violating Freedom of Information Act, Public Citizen Maintained
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump’s Secret Service has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Public Citizen about visitor logs of four key agencies in the White House complex. The settlement will lead to the logs being posted online for the public to see.
“The Trump administration aimed to keep secret the names of the people visiting the White House in order to keep the public in the dark about the corporate takeover of our government,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “Now we’ll at least have a window into the corporate and ideological lobbyists who are driving Trump administration policy.”
In the suit, filed in August, Public Citizen alleged that the administration was violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) because it refused to release information about visitors to four agencies housed in the White House complex.
Public Citizen sought visitor logs from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The D.C. Circuit in 2013 held that visitor logs from those agencies were agency records subject to release under FOIA.
In denying Public Citizen’s first FOIA request, the Secret Service said that it had transferred the requested records to the White House Office of Records Management, which is not subject to FOIA, and had deleted its copies. Public Citizen then asked the court to require the Secret Service to maintain a copy of all visitor logs and other records documenting visitors to the OMB, OSTP, ONDCP and CEQ since Jan. 20, 2017, until the lawsuit was resolved. The court did so.
“There was no legal justification for the Secret Service to withhold the visitor logs we requested,” said Adina Rosenbaum, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case. “We are pleased that the public will have access to these valuable records.”
Under the settlement, the visitor logs will be transferred to the four agencies, which, going forward, will process and post the logs online within a month of receiving them. Visitor logs from the past year will be released over the next several months.