23:17 GMT01 March 2021
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    The new administration stressed that it will be releasing the logs of White House visitors in stark contrast from the former administration, which chose to keep most of the logs sealed. However, the Biden administration is not planning to release the logs of virtual meetings – currently a predominant way of communication in the White House.

    The Biden administration will not be able to release the records on White House visitors during Donald Trump's tenure in office, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said when asked about such a possibility. A media question suggested cross-checking the list of White House visitors with the names of confirmed 6 January rioters, who stormed the Capitol following a pro-Trump rally and speech by the now ex-POTUS at the event.

    "We cannot. That is under the purview of the National Archives so I'd certainly point you to there", the spokeswoman said.

    The National Archives Public and Media Communications, in turn, stated that the unsealing of visitor logs might only be requested starting on 20 January 2026. The National Archives referred to the Presidential Records Act, which regulates the handling of documents related to previous administrations and provides a five-year grace period for unsealing.

    At the same time, should the US Congress or law enforcement need these records, they might try to get limited access to them. However, they will not be able to release them to the public before the grace period expires.

    U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021.
    © REUTERS / TOM BRENNER
    U.S. President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States, U.S., January 20, 2021.

    Trump ordered his records to be handled by the National Archives and refused to publically release the list of White House visitors at the start of his term in 2017. His order was partially rescinded via a lawsuit in 2018, but the former administration was only forced to publish a limited number of visitor records. The Biden administration earlier stressed its intent to release the list of White House visitors as soon as possible, but spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that most meetings took place online and that the logs of "virtual meetings" will not be published.

    Visitor Records in Question

    Interest in the comings and goings of White House guests in the last months of the Trump administration stems from the claims that the former president orchestrated the 6 January riot, possibly with some of his allies. In the absence of official records, the media relied on the photos of White House guests ahead of the 6 January Capitol unrest, which showed two advocates of election fraud claims, Former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and election lawyer Sidney Powell, visit the president's office.

    The Democrats, as well as some Republicans, claim that the 6 January riot, when a group of pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol trying to thwart the certification of election results, was triggered by the ex-president's allegations that the election had been "stolen" from him via massive voter fraud. The Capitol siege was preceded by a speech by the then-POTUS, which his opponents claim "incited insurrection". Trump, however, denied responsibility for the unrest and later condemned the actions of the rioters.

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    records, White House, US, Donald Trump
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