A government watchdog has won a court challenge over the visitor logs to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort which will now be published by the group. The ruling is part of ongoing litigation over visitors to the White House and other Trump properties.
“The public deserves to know who is coming to meet with the president and his staff,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in a statement Monday.
“We are glad as a result of this case, this information will become public for meeting at his personal residences – but it needs to be public for meetings at the White House as well.”
The Department of Homeland Security said the visitor logs for Mar-a-Logo will be turned over by September 8.
Trump, who has dubbed his Palm Beach, Florida club the “Southern White House,” has been criticized for hosting foreign dignitaries and conducting official government business in public view at the club.
CREW and the Knight First Amendment Institute also sued for visitor logs to Trump Tower and the White House. Those lawsuits are ongoing.
The Trump administration claimed to have no records for visitors to Trump Tower.
The lawsuit, Doyle v. US Department of Homeland Security, was filed in federal district court in New York on April 10. It was filed after the Trump administration failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request over the logs.
On March 6, eight senators sent letters to Trump and the head of the US Secret Service complaining about the absence of visitor logs, underlining that it provides the American public with insight into who is lobbying the Trump administration.
The coalition said it wanted the information to inform the public of actual or alleged activities of the federal government, as it considers those records “a matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government’s integrity which affect public confidence.”
“It is crucial to understand who is potentially influencing the decision-making of the president, particularly when you have a White House that tends to lean toward secret decision-making,” Bookbinder told the Washington Post in April.
The Obama administration started releasing its visitor logs in 2009 following a similar CREW lawsuit. Every month, they voluntarily posted online the name of visitors, as well as the dates and times they entered and left the White House compound.
The Trump administration announced in April that they would break with the practice and cited “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”