Government watchdog group Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington said Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration will have to release visitor records for his private Mar-a-Lago club in response to a lawsuit it filed — though it’s far from clear it will get what it’s looking for.
CREW, which filed suit with the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University for logs of visitors from Mar-a-Lago, the White House and Trump Tower, said the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to release Mar-a-Lago’s logs by Sept. 8. The group has vowed to share the records publicly.
“The public deserves to know who is coming to meet with the president and his staff,” said Noah Bookbinder, CREW’s executive director. “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.”
The group declared it a “MAJOR CREW VICTORY” in a tweet Monday morning, but it’s unclear what records the group will receive. POLITICO reported in March that despite efforts from Democrats to obtain records of who’s coming in and out of Trump’s private clubs, no one is actually keeping track.
Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s “winter White House,” doesn’t log its guests, even when the president is visiting the South Florida seaside club. Unlike entry into the White House, getting into Mar-a-Lago doesn’t require a comprehensive background check or a weapon screening. Members of the private club do frequently submit guests’ names to the front desk for informal visits and events, but that process doesn’t require personal details such as a birth date or Social Security number. There’s also no official check-in procedure for guests entering Mar-a-Lago.
Asked about the apparent discrepancy, CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz replied, “We don’t know exactly what records they have.” He explained that court documents call for DHS to produce “records of presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago.”
“What that means is somewhat of a mystery, but whatever records they kept, we will be getting,” Libowitz added.
According to CREW, DHS has said it has no records of Trump Tower visitors, but the lawsuit is ongoing for access to White House visitors, which POLITICO has documented in lieu of the administration’s voluntary disclosure. A DHS spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.