'Spitting in the eye of transparency': Trump administration releases visitor logs from Mar-a-Lago, but it's only a list of 22 Japanese officials

The Trump administration released visitor logs from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Friday after a lengthy court battle with an outside ethics organisation.

But all the administration eventually provided was a list of 22 Japanese officials who visited Mar-a-Lago in February with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“After waiting months for a response to our request for comprehensive visitor logs from the President’s multiple visits to Mar-a-Lago and having the government ask for a last-minute extension, today we received 22 names from the Japanese prime minister’s visit to Mar-a-Lago and nothing else,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the organisation that sought the records, said in a statement. “The government does not believe that they need to release any further Mar-a-Lago visitor records. We vehemently disagree.”

“The government seriously misrepresented their intentions to both us and the court,” he continued. “This was spitting in the eye of transparency. We will be fighting this in court.”

CREW, the National Security Archive, and the Knight First Amendment Institute were scheduled to receive the Mar-a-Lago visitor logs on Friday as a part of their court battle with the Department of Homeland Security. Those logs were requested for dates spanning from January 20 to March 8. CREW said in a statement that an additional lawsuit to obtain White House visitor logs is still ongoing.

CREW had similarly sued the Obama administration in 2009 for release of the White House logs, which the administration settled by agreeing to regularly release the information. Earlier this year, the White House announced it would keep the visitor logs secret.

Last week, government lawyers told CREW they would not be able to release the Mar-a-Lago visitor logs by the September 8 deadline set in court, and the parties agreed to a one-week extension.

CREW’s effort was not the only seeking to obtain the visitor logs, as Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation in March aiming to obtain them.

But one reason the request yielded such limited results was that the logs simply weren’t being kept, as Politico reported in March. Former Secret Service officials — the agency maintains such logs for the White House — told Politico in March that the agency doesn’t have the time or money to maintain logs at the president’s private clubs, adding that doing so is not practice when a president goes to a hotel or other locations away from the White House.

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