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The Trump White House Gets Sued For Keeping Visitor Records Private

The Department of Homeland Security and the White House haven't responded to three watchdog groups' Freedom of Information Act requests.
Posted at 10:15 AM, Apr 11, 2017

The Trump administration is keeping the names of White House guests under wraps — and now, it's getting sued for it.

A handful of watchdog and ethics groups filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security for not providing visitor logs despite requests through the Freedom of Information Act, also know as FOIA.

The groups also want info on who visited Trump Tower in New York City and Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

They want the court to force Homeland Security to hand over the records. The court document alleges the department didn't respond to FOIA requests within the number of days required by law.

FOIA gives citizens the right to access records and information from the federal government. Agencies are required to release the information requested unless it falls under one of the listed exemptions or exclusions. Those exemptions are mostly centered around national security, personal privacy and law enforcement.

The court battle isn't unique to the Trump administration. Former president George W. Bush was sued in 2006 for keeping the logs private.

And at first the Obama administration kept them under wraps, too. But in 2009 the administration agreed to release the White House visitor logs every month, with some exceptions.

Now, the groups argue, it's a matter of public interest if foreign officials and others visit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.