35+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Judge Orders Sep. 8 Deadline for Mar-a-Lago Visitor Records Release

Published: Jul 17, 2017
Briefing Book #599


Edited by Lauren Harper and Tom Blanton
For further information, contact: 202.994.7000 and nsarchiv@gwu.edu

White House Records Still at Issue in Doyle v. DHS

Archive, Knight Institute, CREW Persuade Government to Concede on Resort

Washington, D.C., July 17, 2017 – The Department of Homeland Security will release the visitor logs for President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort by September 8, according to a court order filed on July 14, 2017, by federal judge Katherine Polk Failla. The order is in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by the National Security Archive, together with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

The suit, Doyle v. DHS, was filed on April 10, 2017, in the federal District Court for the Southern District of New York. It seeks the Secret Service's White House visitor logs dating from Inauguration Day through March 8 ,including visitor logs for Mar-a-Lago and Trump Tower.

The National Security Archive’s Kate Doyle, senior analyst working on US-Latin America policy, filed the initial FOIA request with the Secret Service on January 23 for the Worker and Visitor Entrance System (WAVES) records and Access Control Records System (ACR) records covering Inauguration weekend. WAVES and ACR are the systems that keep track of White House visitors and were used to generate the White House visitor logs previously posted to Whitehouse.gov.

The government has until the end of September 2017 to file declarations concerning the White House visitor logs; DHS claims there are no such records for Trump Tower since the President did not visit the property during the time period covered by the request.

The Obama administration began voluntarily posting the visitor logs on Whitehouse.gov after a September 2009 settlement with CREW, which brought the original White House visitor log lawsuit against the George W. Bush administration in 2007. The Obama administration agreed to post the logs 90 to 120 days after the visits took place, with several exceptions, and did so throughout the duration of Obama’s two terms, cumulatively posting 5.99 million rows of data that were viewed 471 thousand times and downloaded more than 10 thousand times as of the page’s final update on December 30, 2016. The published visitor logs contained 28 fields of data, including the date and time of the appointment, type of access the visitor received, and a description of the visitors.

Read the Court Order here

Read previous Trump visitor log lawsuit posting here