President Barack Obama published logs online during his presidency listing all of his official visitors, but that ended abruptly after Donald Trump became President.
Trump has been very secretive about his meetings, which he has at all of his homes and vacation resorts. Since there are questions about his conflicts of interest due to his on-going business interests and his ties to Russia and other foreign governments, his obsessive secrecy has become a serious issue.
If legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate today becomes law, Trump would be required to publish the names of his visitors at the White House, Trump Tower in New York, MAR-A-LAGO in Florida, Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey and anywhere else he greets people on official business.
The name of the bill is Make Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act, but it is being called the MAR-A-LAGO Act, in honor of the Palm Beach resort where Trump spends many of his weekends and regularly entertains friends, family, business people, foreign dignitaries, and others.
For instance, he took the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to Mar-A-LAGO for talks in February. He calls the resort, which his company owns, the “Winter White House.”
The Senators sent a letter to Trump and the Deputy Director of the Secret Service asking for the regular publication of visitor logs – but got no response.
Therefore, the MAR-A-LAGO bill was introduced to force greater transparency by Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Jack Reed (R.I.). Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill) has introduced a companion bill in the House.
Senator Udall has said the Trump administration is avoiding transparency.
“It’s simple: the American people have a right to know who has access to the president,” Udall said in a statement, “and who has leverage over this administration.”
With the Republicans holding a majority in both houses of Congress, the bill is likely to face opposition, and even if it passed, it seems unlikely that Trump would sign it. However, it is important that these Congressmen have taken this step to shine a bright light on the dark corners of an administration that seems to prefer to operate in the shadows.