President Biden, in an effort to re-establish transparency, is bringing back a practice ended by the Trump administration.,
The White House releases its first visitor logs since the Obama administration.
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in the Oval Office in April.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
By Annie Karni
May 7, 2021
The Biden administration released its first batch of White House visitor logs on Friday as part of an effort to restore transparency to government.
The list included 400 names of individuals who had been in and out of the West Wing from Jan. 20-31.
Mr. Biden committed during the transition to making White House visitor logs public, after President Donald J. Trump refused for four years to release the names of people coming and going from the White House complex.
The Trump administration faced legal challenges to that stance and, in 2018, reached a settlement that allowed the monthly publication of visitor logs for some White House offices, including the Office of Management and Budget. But that never extended to the entirety of the West Wing.
In releasing the names of White House visitors, Mr. Biden is returning to the practice of the Obama administration, which regularly released and archived visitor logs for its core offices.
The Biden administration has also been following the Obama blueprint for the timing of the releases, with plans to release the lists within 90 to 120 days of the visit, officials said.
Visitor logs have historically provided an incomplete picture of the individuals visiting the president and his senior staff, as not everyone who enters the West Wing is necessarily listed.
The Biden administration has said it does not plan to release the names of virtual meeting attendees, even as Zoom has become the primary way for outside groups and individuals to communicate with top White House officials during the coronavirus pandemic.
The first batch of names included cabinet secretaries like Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state, and Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary. It was smaller than normal because of strict coronavirus restrictions about who can come and go from the West Wing.
“As vaccinations increase and the pandemic response continues to make progress, we look forward to welcoming many more visitors onto the White House campus and back into the People’s House,” a White House statement said.