Washington, D.C., September 8, 2017 – The widely anticipated release of Mar-a-Lago visitor records for President Trump’s first six weeks in office has been delayed until noon on Friday, September 15, at the request of the government.
Previously, federal district judge Katherine Polk Failla had ordered release of this first tranche of visitor logs for today, in response to the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the National Security Archive, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Doyle et. al. v. DHS). But government lawyers told the plaintiffs yesterday that another week was needed for final review of the records.
Apparently, the Mar-a-Lago records do not include the level of detail that was routinely released by the Obama White House for over seven years on visitors, such as the staff person who authorized the visit, and location visited. Instead, the Mar-a-Lago records seem to consist of a series of e-mails between Secret Service components, sending names and identity information to be vetted. The release next Friday, September 15, will likely consist of a PDF containing these e-mails.
President Trump spent 14 days at Mar-a-Lago over four separate visits during the first six weeks after Inauguration Day 2017, which is the period covered by the plaintiffs’ initial FOIA requests, including headline-making meetings with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, among others.
Open questions about the Mar-a-Lago logs include:
- How many visitors were vetted by the Secret Service during the Trump visits?
- How much information is actually recorded by the apparently ad hoc e-mail process?
- How does the list of visitors vetted by the Secret Service compare to the hundreds of people present at Mar-a-Lago on those days?
- Who’s who on this list?
The National Security Archive will post the Mar-a-Lago records online as soon as they are received from the government on September 15.