White House Backtracks on Visitor Logs Transparency

President Joe Biden takes notes doing a G7 Leaders’ Virtual Meeting Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in the White House Situation Room. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

The Biden White House won’t be releasing virtual visitor logs to the public.

Early on, the Biden administration committed to releasing the logs to the public. Currently, there are no plans to disclose the names of attendees of virtual meetings, which are currently the primary mode of interaction for the president until the coronavirus pandemic eases, according to a report from Politico.

Politico also reported, “The schedules for the president and vice president aren’t posted online. The White House comment line is shut down. There are no citizen petitions on the White House’s website.”

Jen Psaki tweeted from her personal account before Biden was inaugurated. She said the White House will return to the policy of releasing the visitor logs, citing safety during the pandemic as the top priority:

Alex Howard, director of Digital Democracy Project, at the left-leaning Demand Progress Educational Fund, told Politico:

The steps they’ve taken are welcome, but insufficient to the moment and the need. They need to keep ‘showing their work’ by opening Cabinet meetings, disclosing information and using political capital to emphasize that being ‘open by default’ isn’t just an option but an obligation across the government.

Howard authored a letter in February asking the Biden administration about “transparency & good governance”. The letter was signed onto by 40+ groups, including Demand Progress, Government Accountability Project, and Open The Government.

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