President Donald Trump's administration refused to release visitor logs from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that would provide the identities of those who have visited the president while he has stayed there.
In July the Department of Justice was ordered by a federal court to finish reviewing Mar-a-Lago visitor records and make them available to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal nonprofit group that fights for government transparency, according to the New York Times.
On Friday the Justice Department had only "released a State Department list of just 22 names — all of them members of the delegation of the Japanese prime minister — who visited the club in February for a meeting with President Trump," the Times reported.
The defiant decision is the latest example of the Trump administration's lack of transparency, and only stirs more questions regarding Trump's private business that he can still take out money from. It also raises further scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest, and those who have privately spent time with him, and why the president would feel it necessary to hide it from the public.
CREW along with the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued the Department of Homeland Security in April in order to receive visitor logs, from his Florida resort, as well as Trump Tower in New York City and the White House, the Times reported.
CREW requested only to receive visitor logs for those who had specifically met with the president.
The Times elaborated on the lawsuit:
Federal law exempts the White House from the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, which requires public disclosure of government documents. But CREW and its partners argued that because the presidential visitor records are typically maintained by the Secret Service — which is part of the Department of Homeland Security — they should not be exempt from public release.
Judge Katherine Polk Failla, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, ordered the president's administration to hand over "records of presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago" by September, the Times reported.
Instead, the Justice Department insisted "that presidential schedule information is not subject to FOIA," Chad A. Readler, acting assistant attorney general, wrote in a letter to CREW, according to the Times.
CREW addressed the decision in a statement, and pledged to continue fighting for visitor logs in court.
"The government does not believe that they need to release any further Mar-a-Lago visitor records. We vehemently disagree. The government seriously misrepresented their intentions to both us and the court. This was spitting in the eye of transparency. We will be fighting this in court.
This is not "drain the swamp." This is not transparency. This is a trip back to a court room. pic.twitter.com/iSaI3FFTbH
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) September 16, 2017
While Trump has also not released his tax returns, a bill recently passed the California State Assembly that, if signed into law, would require all presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to get their name on the voting ballot.