President Joe Biden has ordered the release of Trump White House visitor logs to the House committee conducting investigations into the riot of Jan. 6, 2021, once again rejecting former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
In a letter sent to the National Archives Wednesday, White House counsel Dana Remus stated that Biden has given the agency instructions to hand the logs — which show all White House visitor information on the day of Jan. 6 — over to the committee.
Remus explained that Biden came to the decision that an assertion of executive privilege is “not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified,” and that the majority of entries that the former President exercised executive privilege over would be publicly released under current policy.
“As practice under that policy demonstrates, preserving the confidentiality of this type of record generally is not necessary to protect long-term institutional interests of the Executive Branch.”
Remus added that the Biden administration regularly discloses visitors logs on a monthly basis, with exceptions, as did the Obama administration. The National Archives had given the documents to the current administration in late January, afterwhich Trump blocked the visitor logs from public view.
The letter states that “in light of the urgency of the Select Committee’s need for the information,” the documents are to be given 15 days after Trump is notified, “unless prohibited by court order.” It’s currently not known how detailed the logs are, or what use they will be to the committee.
As CNN detailed, the logs are made up of information of visitors who made an appointment to the White House, but the extent of which they can reveal the inner workings of the House are limited. Anyone without a permanent pass must provide personal information along with details of the visit, processed by Secret Service.
However, there are loopholes for how information can become unknown and eschewed. If the visitor additionally meets with other officials or enters another building than the one they were originally visiting, that wouldn’t show up on the logs. Meanwhile, if a visitor doesn’t appear at the scheduled time — or at all — the visitor and entry would still be recorded for the original date and time.
The Associated Press notes that Trump had been extremely precautious with documentations during his presidency. He took some administration records to his Mar-A-Lago Resort in Florida, alarming historians and archivists.
According to AP, Trump and his officials could also face additional legal trouble if there is any evidence of White House documents — which are protected by the Presidential Records Act established in 1978 — being tampered or mishandled. Depending on the actions, prison sentences can range from three to five years.
When turned over the to committee, the logs will not be made public, and no timeline has been given for when they will be made public. Instead, Resmus noted they will be initially declared as “national-security sensitive” (NSS) or “otherwise-highly sensitive,” (OHS). Personal information — such as birth dates and social security numbers — will be redacted, while the committee cannot share any of the documentation without prior consultation.
Andrew Rhoades is a Contributing Reporter at The National Digest based in New York. A Saint Joseph’s University graduate, Rhoades’ reporting includes sports, U.S., and entertainment. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.