President Biden spent 28 percent of his first year as commander in chief back home in Delaware, worrying transparency advocates who note that he exempted his homes from visitor log disclosure.
Biden, who returns to the White House on Monday night from his house in Wilmington, simply likes being home, his press representatives say.
But critics are concerned about who may be seeking to influence public policy over dinner — or breakfast — in Biden’s sun room.
“Generally speaking, the American people have a right to know what the president is up to. This president specifically changed policy to presumably disclose who’s been visiting the White House,” said Tom Fitton, president of conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which has for years battled for White House visitor log transparency.
“The decision to keep secret who is visiting Delaware makes a mockery of that transparency. It turns it into a joke,” Fitton said.
Biden spent at least part of 101 days of his first year in office in Delaware — almost always at either his primary residence in Wilmington or his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach.
Despite vowing to lead the most transparent administration yet, Biden is increasingly taking flak for being out of public view while giving fewer interviews and press conferences than predecessors. He will give his second solo White House press conference Wednesday — the final day of his first year in office.
The Biden White House initially applauded itself last year for resuming the partial release of visitor logs, saying in May, “These logs give the public a look into the visitors entering and exiting the White House campus for appointments, tours, and official business — making good on President Biden’s commitment to restore integrity, transparency, and trust in government.”
But White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki clarified to The Post in August that there would be no visitor logs released from Biden’s Delaware residences.
“I can confirm we are not going to be providing information about the comings and goings of the president’s grandchildren or people visiting him in Delaware,” Psaki said.
The Obama administration in 2009 began releasing some visitor logs as a matter of policy to resolve lawsuits from the liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Former President Donald Trump in 2017 discontinued the practice, calling it phony transparency due to officials redacting many names.
Presidents can pick and choose what they reveal about visitor logs thanks to an appeals court ruling that Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote as a judge in 2013. Garland wrote that a president’s constitutional right to confidential communications means that the Freedom of Information Act doesn’t apply to visitor logs held by the Secret Service.
The Trump White House made full use of Garland’s ruling to abandon disclosure of logs. Then-White House communications director Michael Dubke said Trump’s decision was made in part due to “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”
Transparency advocates argue that presidential visitor logs reviewable under FOIA and that any national security or privacy concerns could be addressed with specific legally defined redactions.
Psaki’s announcement that Biden would exempt his home from visitor log transparency triggered concern about who first son Hunter Biden might be bringing to dinner. “[Joe Biden] is the one who had Hunter at the vice president’s office meeting with his business partners,” Fitton said at the time.
By Biden’s own admission, he sometimes talks policy with his son, who has an array of foreign clients that present conflicts of interest. The president said in November that he consulted with his son ahead of a climate change conference in Scotland.
The links between the elder Biden and his son’s business ventures often are murky. For example, it’s unclear if they have discussed his new art career in which Hunter hopes to fetch as much as $500,000 from anonymous buyers for his novice artwork, which experts say is open to potential influence-peddling.
Hunter bagged at least $375,000 for five print at a Hollywood art show attended by one of his father’s ambassador nominees, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said less than a week after President Biden’s November summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the first son divested a 10 percent stake in an investment fund controlled by Chinese state-owned entities. Hunter Biden and the White House provided no further details.
That firm, BHR Partners, was registered 12 days after the then-second son joined Vice President Biden aboard Air Force Two for a 2013 trip to Beijing.
Trump’s defense team at his 2020 impeachment trial cited Obama-era visitor logs that indicated Biden met with his son’s business partner Devon Archer around the time Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where he earned a reported $1 million per year.
Trump attorney Pam Bondi argued that Trump should not have been impeached for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens because the elder Biden may have had his own hand in the deal.
Photos and emails published by The Post indicate that Joe Biden in 2015 hosted his son and a group of Mexican business associates at the vice president’s official residence. In 2016, Hunter Biden apparently emailed one of those associates while aboard Air Force Two for an official visit to Mexico, complaining that he hadn’t received reciprocal business favors.
“I have brought every single person you have ever asked me to bring to the F’ing White House and the Vice President’s house and the inauguration,” he griped.
And documents and photos from the laptop indicate Joe Biden attended a 2015 DC dinner with a group of his son’s associates — including a trio of Kazakhs and the Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina and her husband, ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. A Senate report released last year said a firm linked to Hunter Biden received $3.5 million from Baturina in 2014.
A photo depicts Joe Biden posing with the Kazakhstani group at the dinner and one day after the gathering, Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi emailed the then-second son to thank him for the opportunity to meet his father.
Biden’s weekends away continue Trump’s habit of generally leaving the White House on Friday — in a break from the habits of former President Barack Obama, who made the White House home. Trump typically held court at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., or his golf course in Bedminster, NJ.