No White House vistor logs: Trump administration transparency hits new low

With its refusal to release White House visitor logs, the Trump administration’s further reveals a skimpy commitment to transparency. Trump claimed President Obama sealed his college records to hide something [a false claim] but now withholds his own tax records.  (CNN, April 17, 2017, by Chris Cillizza)

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed the Trump administration was just following visitor log policies of previous presidents. Spicer said Obama published logs with deletions made for privacy reasons and that the Trump administration also needed to protect the privacy of visitors who would not be willing to visit were it public. (CNN, April 17, 2017, by Jeremy Diamond with contributions from Jeanne Sahadi)

An investigative report from The New York Times levels criticism at the Trump administration for hiding the identities of visitors who may be lobbyists and CEOs asking favors of the President. But the main thrust of the report centered on Trump’s appointees, many of who were lawyers and lobbyists for industries they are now charged with regulating. Danielle Brian of the Project for Government Oversight is concerned about the high numbers of potential conflicts that would call for recusals and waivers  under ethics rules, especially given the secretive ways of the administration. She says no one can see if the new appointees operate under any restrictions. (The New York Times, April 15, 2017, by Eric Lipton, Ben Protess and Andrew W. Lehren)

Spicer said that the current level of disclosure in the Trump administration was necessary to operate the government effectively. He said that to publish the logs would deprive the president of frank advice. Reporters were asking Spicer about when Trump would release his tax records and for the identities of Trump’s golf partners in Mar-a-Lago. (The New York Times, April 17, 2917, by Glenn Thrush)