White House defends holding back attendance records in Delaware, where Biden logged 1 in 4 days

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The White House defended its decision to withhold visitor log records for President Joe Biden’s Delaware residences, as records show the president is logging a quarter of his first year in office in his home state.

“The president goes to Delaware because it’s his home,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, adding that Biden’s son, first wife and daughter are buried here. “It’s a place he obviously cares about.”

According to recent surveys, the President spent 28% of his first year in office in Delaware, usually on weekend trips. Biden has called his White House residency something of a “gilded cage in terms of being able to get outside and do things.”

But critics of the policy are concerned about who might be trying to influence White House decision-making.

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The Biden administration has pledged to improve transparency upon taking office, including releasing visitor logs of face-to-face meetings at the site. However, the rule does not extend to Biden’s homes in Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where Biden has visited about 1 day in 4 since taking office.

“I can confirm that we will not provide any information regarding the comings and goings of the president’s grandchildren or visitors visiting him in Delaware,” Psaki said in August.

Biden has spent half of his weekends in Delaware since taking office, 26 of 52 compared to 10 at the White House and 13 at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

When asked Monday whether the administration might reconsider given the time Biden is spending in his home state, Psaki disagreed.

“We have also gone a step further than the previous administration and many administrations in releasing visitor logs of people visiting the White House, and will continue to do so,” she said.

The government hailed its policies over the past year as meeting the president’s transparency goals.

“These logs give the public a glimpse of visitors entering and exiting the White House campus for appointments, tours and official business — fulfilling President Biden‘s commitment to restoring integrity, transparency and trust in the administration,” said the White House made a May announcement.

But while Biden has vowed to lead the most ethical White House team “in history,” the administration’s approach has sometimes irked ethics experts.

Last year, records showed that the brother of a top adviser to the president had campaigned for a major automaker at the National Security Council, sessions the White House declined to disclose.

Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics under former President Barack Obama and briefly under former President Donald Trump, likened it to a gap in visitor logs of virtual meetings.

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The White House has declined to release these even though many meetings are being held virtually due to pandemic safety precautions.

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