Advocacy groups sue for presidential visitor records

Advocacy groups sue for presidential visitor records

[JURIST] Several US advocacy groups filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Monday to obtain visitor logs for who has met with President Trump at the White House, the Mar-a-Lago Florida resort and Trump Tower in New York. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, National Security Archive [advocacy websites] and the Knight First Amendment Institute initiated the suit in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website]. These plaintiffs previously requested the logs under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [government backgrounder], but have sued because their requests have gone unanswered by the Secret Service. “This is a case about the public’s right to know who wields influence over the most powerful office in our government,” stated [press release] Knight’s Alex Abdo. “In our view, the Freedom of Information Act requires the government to make this information available to the public.”

The Trump administration has faced repeated lawsuits under the FOIA in recent months. Last month the Knight First Amendment Institute filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against the Trump administration seeking release of data under the FOIA on how often US citizens and others had electronic devices searched at border crossings. In January a journalist and a graduate student at MIT filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against eight federal agencies for records on attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, alleging the agencies improperly refused to process their FOIA requests and denied them rights to appeal. Also in January the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a request [JURIST report] under the FOIA for “records pertaining to financial and other ethical conflicts of interest in connection with the presidential transition of President-Elect Donald J. Trump.”