Friday, April 14, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He officially confirmed that the White House will no longer make its visitor logs public.

The change, which was announced today, is a break with the Obama administration's policy of releasing the names of visitors to the White House grounds after three months. Under Trump's rules, visitors will not be disclosed until at least five years after Trump himself leaves office. Not surprisingly, Trump had previously been a staunch advocate for presidential transparency and accused the Obama White House of "hiding something" in its visitor records.

Secret meetings have been a recurring theme for Trump. Much of the ongoing investigations into the Russian government's election interference deals with secret meetings that Trump campaign staff took with Russian officials. More recently, the pro-Trump chair of one of those investigations, Rep. Devin Nunes, made a secret visit to the White House complex the night before his more public "briefing" with Trump. When the initial visit--in which the Trump administration itself gave Nunes the information he needed to "brief" Trump--came to light, Nunes defended himself by saying, "If I really wanted to I could've snuck onto the [White House] grounds, and nobody would've seen me." 

The staffer who confirmed the new policy claimed that releasing the names constitutes a "grave national security risk." No explanation was given.

Who cares?

  • "It's a national security issue" cannot be a president's excuse for everything.
  • Trump permitting himself and his staff unlimited secret meetings with undisclosed persons is a little hard to square with "draining the swamp."