Politico

Biden administration releases first batch of White House visitor logs


The Biden White House released its first batch of visitor logs Friday, bringing back the practice that began under former President Barack Obama but stopped under former President Donald Trump.

The batch released included 400 records from Jan. 20 to the end of January, according to a release from the White House. The White House pledged to release the logs monthly.

“These logs give the public a look into the visitors entering and exiting the White House campus for appointments, tours, and official business — making good on President Biden’s commitment to restore integrity, transparency, and trust in government,” the release said.

The White House did not include records “related to purely personal guests of the First and Second Families” nor did it release “records related to a small group of particularly sensitive meetings.” They described visits of potential Supreme Court nominees as such sensitive meetings.

For that reason, perhaps, there were only a handful of individuals listed as having come to the White House to directly meet with the president himself. That list included Charlene Austin, Bryan Fenton, Christopher Hill, Reginald Hill, Caleb Hyatt, Charles Luftig, and Kelly Magsamen, all of whom met with Biden on the same day, Jan. 25, the date of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s swearing in.

Luftig serves as chief of staff at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Fenton is the lieutenant general in the United States Army. Magsamen is Austin’s chief of staff. Charlene Austin is Austin’s wife. Hyatt is Austin’s junior military assistant. And Christopher and Reginald Hill are Austin’s step sons.

The White House records also indicate that two people met in the situation room (listed only as “Situation” on the records sheets). They were Lefteris Kafatos, an interpreter at the U.S. State Department Office of Language Services and David Cohen — likely the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

One person visited the residency during this time period: Raven Turner. The White House did not say who Turner was.

Amid the pandemic, most White House meetings have been virtual. But the White House has declined to release the names of people attending virtual meetings. Biden has faced criticism for that decision, though good government groups still applaud him for going further than his immediate predecessor.

Trump’s administration declined to release visitor logs to core White House offices, which prompted legal challenges. The administration settled a lawsuit in 2018, in which it agreed to post logs from some offices.

The Biden administration has said it can’t release the full visitor logs from the Trump White House because they are now the property of the National Archives which must get the former president’s permission to make them public. Questions had been raised about whether anyone who had taken part in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol had visited Trump in the days before it.

The Biden administration expects more visitors as more people are vaccinated for Covid-19, according to the release.

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