The Justice Department Refuses to Hand over Documents

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The fight between US government ethics groups and the Trump administration became ugly after the administration refused to release the logs containing the people who visited President Trump at Ma-a-Lago resort which is the family home of Mr. President. This comes after the department of justice was ordered by a federal court in July to go forth with the review of the people who visited the president at Palm Beach, Florida. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington which is a nonprofit liberal organization had successfully carried a promotion saying that they would acquire the visitors’ logs this week. The justice department instead gave a list of 22 names of the people from the state department who visited the resort. However, it has been reported that these people were part of the delegation that joined Japanese Prime Minister Abe. He visited the resort on February and held a meeting with President Trump. This latest dispute is part of an ongoing dispute related to the records of private people wishing to visit the president. Some experts see this as renewed scrutiny to the business empire of Donald Trump. Also, there are also suspicions onto why the administration should want to hide information that would go a long way in identifying conflicts of interest.

Crew had partnered with two more institutions to access the visitors’ logs. The other institutions were the Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University as well as the National Security Archive. In the April lawsuit, the three institutions sought to acquire president visitors’ log alone. They made it clear that they were not interested in the details of other visitors who were at the resort during the period. However, the White house is not required to disclose its information to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. However, the three institutions were able to argue that since the Secret Service is charged with presidential visitors’ record, they are not protected by the FOIA. At the same time, Secret Service is a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, the Trump administration was ordered on July by Judge Katherine Polk Failla to avail the documents by the end of September. In a statement to CREW, the justice department said that most of the visitor records don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the law. Nevertheless, an executive director from CREW known as Noah Bookbinder said that his organization would challenge the decision by the justice department in a court of law.