While waiting for a doctor’s appointment on Monday, the TV was showing Sean Spicer’s daily press briefing. He was being questioned about the Trump administration’s decision to keep visitor logs secret and his key talking point, which he repeated over and over again no matter what the question was, is quite absurd.
That talking point was that they were following the same rule that every administration followed until Obama, which is not to release the logs or even make them available under FOIA. The Obama administration voluntarily released the logs, putting them on the White House website. But they did allow for exceptions for things like national security or justified secrecy, as when a potential Supreme Court justice would go to meet with the president. Spicer used that to make his argument:
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday defended President Trump’s decision to keep visitor logs to the White House complex under wraps, saying his predecessor’s policy amounted to “faux” government transparency.
The Trump administration drew criticism from an array of watchdog groups when it announced Friday that it would end the Obama administration’s policy of making most visitor logs available on a Web page about 90 to 120 days after visits occurred.
Spicer said the Obama administration would “scrub” the names of any visitors it didn’t want to release, which Spicer said was “not really an honest attempt” at transparency…
With respect to visitor logs, Spicer said Trump was “following the same policy that every administration from the beginning of time (prior to Obama) has used.”
Barack Obama’s policy included exceptions for “sensitive” meetings, including those that raised national security concerns. His White House also declined to release visitors who entered the complex for what they said were purely personal visits to the president or his family members.
“You don’t know who got left off and who didn’t,” Spicer said, calling it a practice that “didn’t serve anyone well.”
It’s true that the Obama administration could have used those exceptions to hide a visit from someone that did not really fit the rule they had announced, though Spicer offered no evidence that they had ever done so. But he was using this in defense of a policy that replaces what Spicer claimed was “faux transparency” with no transparency at all, a patently ridiculous argument. But this is what the White House press secretary does (and not just Spicer, or even just Republicans), they go on TV and say monumentally stupid things with a completely straight face and total confidence. You have to be extremely comfortable with lying and irrationality to hold such a position.