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Trump shouldn’t hide who he’s seeing. Obama didn’t.

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A version of this post first appeared in “Insider Today,” a daily email written by Henry Blodget and David Plotz. To receive it in your inbox, please sign up here.

In another small reinforcement of executive power, a federal appeals court ruled that the Trump White House can keep visitor logs at the White House and Mar-a-Lago a secret. In April 2017, President Trump reversed an Obama policy of releasing visitor records, and open government advocates sued to reopen them. 

The court agreed with President Trump that sharing the records would deprive him of the “unfettered, candid counsel” a president needs. (A judge appointed by President Obama wrote the decision, by the way.) Trump’s visitor logs will now stay sealed until at least five years after he leaves office. 

This isn’t the most outrageous example of presidential privilege ever recorded. Every judge who’s looked at the case has taken the Trump side, suggesting the legal arguments for secrecy are strong. And presidents before Obama kept their visitor logs private

Yet we know from the Obama experience that opening the visitor logs doesn’t destroy effective government, and doesn’t make it impossible for the president to do the job. And transparency educates the public. If our president is meeting frequently with particular lobbyists or activists, and that’s shaping government policy, it’s valuable for us to know that.

A version of this post first appeared in “Insider Today,” a daily email written by Henry Blodget and David Plotz. To receive it in your inbox, please sign up here.

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