Public Citizen is suing the Trump administration to preserve access to public information about who is meeting with top Trump administration officials.
On Aug. 17, Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Secret Service, seeking to compel the agency to release visitor logs to four agencies housed in the White House complex.
Public Citizen submitted three Freedom of Information Act requests to the Secret Service over the course of four months for visitor logs and other information documenting visits to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality. The logs of those agencies are available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to a 2013 court ruling.
The Secret Service, however, ignored or rejected each of Public Citizen’s requests. Instead, the agency forwarded the documents to the White House Office of Records Management which is not subject to FOIA, and destroyed its own copies.
“The D.C. Circuit has held that the records we requested should be made public under FOIA,” said Adina Rosenbaum, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case. “The Secret Service has no legal justification for withholding them.”
“There is exactly one reason the Trump administration aims to keep secret the names of the people visiting the White House: It wants to keep the public in the dark about the corporate takeover of our government,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “Even so, the Trump White House’s refusal to turn over visitor logs that it knows it is legally obligated to release is particularly shameful, even by the standards of this administration.”
Because the Secret Service stated in response to Public Citizen’s first FOIA request that it had transferred the requested visitor logs to the records management office, Public Citizen asked the court to require the agency to maintain copies of the requested visitor logs during the course of the litigation. In its response to the motion, the Secret Service stated that it would suspend its practice of erasing visitor logs after transferring them to the records management office while the lawsuit is pending.