The White House on Friday released its first batch of records disclosing visits by official guests, returning to a practice set by the Obama administration but ditched by Donald Trump.
The White House disclosed 400 visits during President Joe Biden’s first 12 days in office. The White House typically sees hundreds of visitors each day, but the pandemic has slowed those visits dramatically, the records show.
“As vaccinations increase and the pandemic response continues to make progress, we look forward to welcoming many more visitors onto the White House campus and back into the People’s House,” the White House said in a statement.
Amid the pandemic, most meetings have been virtual. Biden has faced criticism for not planning to release the names of people attending virtual meetings, arguing that previous administrations did not release phone call and similar information.
The first batch of names included prominent Cabinet secretaries like Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, and Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, along with the members of the military band who played on Inauguration Day and frequent visits by the American Sign Language interpreter.
Biden, a Democrat, committed during the transition to making White House visitor logs public, after Trump, his Republican predecessor, refused to release the names of people coming and going from the White House complex.
The Trump administration faced legal challenges to that stance and reached a settlement in 2018 that allowed the monthly publication of visitor logs for some executive offices, including the Office of Management and Budget. But that never extended to the entirety of the White House.