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President Donald Trump walks out of the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The White House decided to keep visitor records secret, angering gov't watchdog groups


The White House said Friday that lists of visitors to the building will be kept secret, breaking with the practice of President Donald Trump's predecessor.

The Trump administration cited privacy and national security concerns, but the decision angered government watchdog groups who accused Trump of reneging on his promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington.

The groups see the visitor logs as important tools for monitoring which individuals or groups may be trying to influence White House policy.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University cited freedom of information laws.

CREW said Friday's decision was disappointing, given that Trump repeatedly promised at his raucous campaign rallies to "drain the swamp."

The Obama administration released nearly 6 million records.

In contrast, the Trump administration's decision to end the practice means that no records documenting any White House comings and goings will be released on a routine basis while he is in office, though the officials said some information could be released case by case.

The White House is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

"The Obama administration agreed to release the visitor logs in response to our lawsuits, and despite the Trump administration's worry over 'grave national security risks and concerns,' only positives for the American people came out of them," said Noah Bookbinder, the group's executive director.

"It looks like we'll see them in court."

The watchdog group plans to sue to have the White House release its visitor logs released.

Here is a copy of a statement from Judicial Watch on being "disappointed" with Trump.

--The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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