WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is ending the practice of disclosing the identities of most visitors to the White House, saying that to do so posed “grave national security risks and privacy concerns,” US media reported.
The new policy will leave it up to White House officials to decide whether to release the names of visitors who meet with the president or his top advisers, The Washington Post reported.
The move was the latest by the new administration to limit the access of reporters and the public to information about the internal workings of the executive branch and of its key officials—starting with President Donald Trump’s refusal, despite decades of precedence, to release his own tax returns.
Administration officials said on Friday (Saturday in Manila) that closing the website that included logs of White House visitors would save taxpayers $70,000 by 2020, the Post reported.
The Obama administration disclosed most visits, while keeping secret the identities of some private visitors—such as the teenage friends of Obama’s daughters.
Civil liberties and pro-transparency groups sharply criticized the change.
“Trump has bullied the press when they report on him. He has promoted the reporting of fake and outright false information… He has avoided disclosing his tax records, and he has avoided releasing information about his conflicts of interest,” said Faiz Shakir, political director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The only reasonable conclusion is to believe the Trump administration has many things it is trying to hide.”