The administration of President Donald Trump will no longer disclose the names of most visitors to the White House over “national security risks,” a report says.
The Trump administration said instead it would release information under significantly more limited circumstances, the Washington Post reported Friday.
“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 (former president Barack) Obama White House successfully defended in federal court,” White House communications director Mike Dubke said in a statement.
The White House itself will decide whether to release the names of visitors meeting with the president, vice president and other senior officials, the Post said.
A page of the website that included logs of White House visitors has gone dark since Trump took office in January.
According to the White House, closing that page would help taxpayers save $70,000 by 2020.
The move marks a dramatic shift from Obama whose administration voluntarily revealed the identities of nearly 6 million lobbyists and other visitors during his tenure.
The decision by an administration that has already faced questions over its commitment to transparency was criticized by a number of government watchdog groups.
“The only excuse for this policy is that the Trump administration has something to hide,” said David Donnelly, president and chief executive of Every Voice. “This kind of secrecy will allow big donors, lobbyists and special interests to have unknown levels of influence in the White House. It's the exact opposite of 'draining the swamp.'"
Faiz Shakir, political director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "The only reasonable conclusion is to believe the Trump administration has many things it is trying to hide."