Secret Service: No idea who visits Biden in Delaware

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

As we learned earlier this year, Joe Biden spent 28% of the days of his first year in office at his two mansions in Delaware. On top of that, he exempted his Delaware homes from being listed in the White House visitor logs, so there was no way for the media to know precisely who might have been visiting him or what may have been discussed. The New York Post wasn’t very happy with that state of affairs and decided to see if there might be some other way to obtain the information, keeping with the spirit (if not the letter) of the Presidential Records Act. Surely there was somebody who had a record of the comings and going’s at Biden’s luxurious homes, right? That’s when they came up with the idea of submitting a FOIA request to the Secret Service. They had to know the identity of everyone who made it past the gates. Well, the Secret Service has responded, but they say they don’t have any such records.

The US Secret Service has dubiously claimed to The Post that it has “no records” of visitors to President Biden’s two Delaware residences and therefore cannot divulge that information in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.”

The Post sought more than one year of visitor log records, including for Biden’s first year in office, but Secret Service Freedom of Information Act officer Kevin Tyrrell wrote in a response dated Monday that “[t]he Secret Service FOIA Office searched all Program Offices that were likely to contain potentially responsive records, and no records were located.”…

The president sometimes speaks about how his houseguests influence his views on policy. For example, in January, Biden said that a family friend gave him an education about rising prices amid four-decade-high inflation.

The Post is calling the response from the Secret Service “dubious,” but the agency does have a few facts on its side. During previous efforts to sue for access to Presidential visitor logs, the courts decided that FOIA doesn’t apply to those logs because of privacy considerations. (Curiously, that decision was written by Merrick Garland, now the Attorney General.)

And it’s not as if other presidents in recent history did much better. Barack Obama began releasing selected portions of visitor logs following lawsuits from government transparency groups but still kept a lot of them locked up. Trump shut down all access to visitor logs. Biden is following the Obama model for visitor logs at the actual White House but adopting Trump’s secretive approach regarding records of who comes to see him in Delaware.

This shouldn’t have had to boil down to a question of “following the letter of the law” and court orders regarding public records. Joe Biden ran for president on a promise to be “the most transparent administration ever.” Thus far it has been the complete opposite. Biden clearly holds meetings with non-family members at his homes because we know of occasions when Chuck Schumer and other prominent Democrats have visited him there on weekends. A truly transparent administration wouldn’t be hiding basic facts such as the President’s list of guests and meetings.

And it’s not just the visitor logs, either. We’ve written here extensively about the ongoing (now stalled) negotiations with Iran being held in Vienna. No updates on the progress of those negotiations or any offers that the White House has put on the table are ever released to the public. What was the decision-making process leading up to the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan? We have no idea because none of those deliberations were made public, even after the fact.

The most transparent administration ever? Hardly. It’s mostly just business as usual at the Biden White House, and in some of the policy areas we’re discussing today, the policies are almost indistinguishable from Trump’s