The Trump administration on Friday escalated a battle with government ethics groups by declining, even in the face of a federal court order, to release a comprehensive list of individuals visiting with President Trump at his family’s Mar-a-Lago resort during the two dozen days he spent at the private club in Palm Beach, Fla., this year.
The surprising move by the Department of Justice, which had been ordered in July to make the visitors log public, came after weeks of promotion by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the liberal nonprofit group known as CREW, that it would soon be getting the Mar-a-Lago visitors logs.
Instead, on Friday the Justice Department released a State Department list of just 22 names — all of them members of the delegation of the Japanese prime minister — who visited the club in February for a meeting with President Trump.
The dispute centers on what kind of records related to private individuals visiting the president should be open to public inspection.
The refusal to disclose the full list of presidential visitors’ names also brings renewed scrutiny to the president’s private business empire and raises questions about why the administration would want to withhold information that could reveal possible conflicts of interest.