A government watchdog group has accused the Biden administration of “hiding records on visitors to the president.”
In a Facebook post Sunday, Judicial Watch said such records are not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, but raised questions about why President Joe Biden hasn’t voluntarily been transparent about his visitor logs, both at the White House and beyond.
“Why is the Biden administration hiding records on visitors to the president? Years ago the Obama administration fought Judicial Watch in court over whether such documents can be withheld from the public,” the Sunday post from the group read.
“The court ruled that the records can be voluntarily released at the administration’s discretion, meaning they cannot be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit,” Judicial Watch added. “Today these visitor records are still hidden from Americans under the Biden administration. What is it hiding?”
“What are they hiding?”
In a video statement alongside the post, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton complained that “there’s no scrutiny as to what’s not being released.” Fitton said the Biden administration had promised to voluntarily release their visitor logs and that the White House started to, but has largely held back.
What’s more, the president apparently doesn’t plan to release records on visitors to his Delaware home. “Someone figured out, specifically a New York Post reporter, that…[Biden] has gone home to Delaware 17 times,” Fitton said. “Is he getting visitors there? And are those lists going to be released? And the response from the White House this week, from [Press Secretary Jen] Psaki, was no.”
Fitton added: “It makes a mockery of the practice of disclosing the records. What are they hiding? The presidency doesn’t stop when he’s in Delaware.” Take a look:
Exceptions to the rule
A May disclosure from the White House explained what its policy would be on the release of visitor records. “The Biden-Harris Administration will be the first administration to post visitor logs from its first full year in office,” the release boasted. However, many notable exceptions apply.
For example, the disclosure noted, “The White House will not release access records of staff members.” In addition, “[t]he White House will not release access records whose release would threaten national security interests,” an exceptionally broad term.
Another exception noted by the White House: “The White House will not release access records related to purely personal guests of the First and Second Families (i.e., visits that do not involve any official or political business).” It also “will not release access records related to a small group of particularly sensitive meetings (e.g., visits of potential Supreme Court nominees).”
These exceptions — as well as the reality of the limited names currently disclosed — make clear that Biden’s claims of transparency come with strings attached. At the end of the day, the question remains: What does he have to be so secretive about?