NEW: Group says it will release visitor logs for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago


Democratic senators have demanded them. Lawsuits have been filed to obtain them. Now visitor logs for President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach will be released.

Nonprofit government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, announced Monday morning that the Department of Homeland Security will release the logs to the organization by Sept. 8. CREW, which sued for the right to access the records, said it then plans to make public the lists of those who have visited Trump’s exclusive social club.

“The public deserves to know who is coming to meet with the president and his staff,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a news release. “We are glad that as a result of this case, this information will become public for meetings at his personal residences — but it needs to be public for meetings at the White House as well.”

Since taking office in January, Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago seven times. During that time, there have been an untold number of people who have visited the property off Southern Boulevard.

Some of the visitors have attended charity fundraisers and galas at the club, including some events attended by Trump himself. Others have ventured to the club specifically for meetings with Trump. And others have been there because they are club members.

What it amounts to, public advocacy groups say, is a virtual revolving door of potentially exclusive access to the president and members of his family and administration. And because the president has spent several weekends there, they add, the public needs to know who else is there when Trump is at home in Mar-a-Lago.

Following Trump’s first two trips to the club — one of which included a visit from Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe — eight Democratic senators in March called for the Trump administration to release the logs for both Mar-a-Lago and the White House.

That group, which did not include either senator from Florida, also requested more information on how Mar-a-Lago guests were being screened.

As part of its lawsuit to receive records of who has visited Mar-a-Lago, CREW also is suing the government to release visitor lists for Trump Tower in New York and the White House. The organization said Monday that the Department of Homeland Security told it there are no visitor logs for Trump Tower. The lawsuit about the White House visitor logs is ongoing.

Just days after CREW jointly filed the lawsuit with two other groups — the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University— in April, the Trump administration announced that it would not release White House visitor records.

CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz said the hope is that the Mar-a-Lago records will include names and dates, but there is another issue on which the documents could shed light: how the administration is keeping track of visitors.

“We do not know the scope of record-keeping that’s currently going on in this administration,” he said.

During President George W. Bush’s administration, CREW challenged the White House’s decision not to release visitor logs, a lawsuit that carried into President Barack Obama’s first term. The Obama White House chose to make the logs public after two federal judges ruled in favor of CREW.

The White House and Mar-a-Lago Club have not responded to requests for comment. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said his office had seen the CREW announcement and was “trying to get details.”



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