Trump embraced transparency with the anti-FBI memo. But here are nine things he won't disclose

Key Points
  • President Trump won't release a slew of information to the public even as he approves of the release of a classified House Intelligence Committee memo about the FBI.
  • The president's income tax returns remain hidden from view, despite his promise as a candidate to release them.
  • The White House also refuses to release visitor logs. The Obama administration released logs that contained 16 million unique visitors.
Trump embraced transparency with the anti-FBI memo. But here are nine things he won't disclose

If you saw White House chief of staff John Kelly in the news this week, you might think President Donald Trump is a crusader for transparency, someone who wants "everything out" in the open for public inspection.

Speaking about a classified Republican memo that criticizes the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling, Kelly told Fox News Radio: "It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it."

"This president ... wants everything out, so the American people can make up their own minds, and if there's people to be held accountable, then so be it," Kelly said of the memo.

Vice President Mike Pence echoed this sentiment: "I've always believed in the public's right to know," he said Thursday.

But while it may seem like transparency reigns at least this week, the 54 other weeks of Trump's presidency tell a different story. According to ethics experts, Trump oversees the least transparent White House of the modern presidential era.

To help readers cut through the White House spin, here's a handy list of what Trump is still keeping hidden:

1.Trump's income tax returns

Despite being among the wealthiest candidates ever to run for president, Trump broke with 40 years of voluntary transparency when he refused to release his income tax returns during his 2016 presidential campaign.

To this day, Trump claims he can't release the returns because he's under audit. But experts say the rules are clear: Any private citizen can release his or her tax returns at any time, audit or not.

2. White House visitor logs

During President Barack Obama's eight years in office, the White House released logs of over 16 million unique visitors to the executive mansion, everyone from lobbyists, to generals to celebrities.

In April, the Trump White House announced it would discontinue this practice, citing "national security."

3. Trump hotel profits from foreign governments

Shortly before Trump assumed office, his lawyer pledged that Trump's hotels would donate the profits from foreign governments to charity.

A year later, not only has this charity donation not happened, but NBC reported that Trump's hotels are not even tracking their payments from foreign governments.

4. What Trump actually does at Mar-a-Lago

The White House press office likes to insist that the president works 24-7, a messaging effort that goes into overdrive when Trump visits his private resort in Florida.

"The president will NOT have a low-key day and has a full schedule of meetings and phone calls," press aide Lindsay Walters told reporters on Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving.

An hour after she said it, Trump went golfing.


5. What happened to the tens of millions of dollars in surplus Trump inaugural committee funds

Trump's inaugural committee raised $107 million, more than any previous fundraising effort for a presidential inauguration.

Yet Trump's festivities were decidedly more low key than those of his predecessor, who raised just $53 million for his first inaugural in 2009 and didn't even spend it all.

Which raises the question: What happened to the leftover millions? After initially pledging to give the money to charity, one year later, there are no signs that the committee has followed through. We asked the committee what happened to the funds and got "no comment."

6. Who is funding Trump's primary outside group, America First Policies

After a rocky start, Trump's chief outside influence group, the nonprofit America First Policies, now appears to be actively engaging in issue ads and social media on behalf of the president's priorities.

So who, exactly, is bankrolling the group? No one will say.

Obama, on the other hand, released the names of his outside group's donors on a quarterly basis.

7. The names of buyers who recently purchased Trump's properties

Since taking office, Trump has reportedly sold more than $35 million worth of real estate, most of it to people and entities whose names are hidden from the public. USA Today reported last month that "in Las Vegas alone, Trump sold 41 luxury condo units, a majority of which used limited liability companies," which allow individuals to shield their role in a purchase.

8. What volunteers and employees really think about Trump and his family and his companies

Everyone who worked on Trump's presidential campaign, including volunteers, reportedly had to sign a nondisclosure agreement, effective for life, barring them from making disparaging remarks about Trump "any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company," in addition to revealing any "private or confidential" information from Trump.

Last month, Trump and his campaign sent ousted Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon a cease-and-desist letter threatening him with legal action for alleged defamation and slander and breach of his nondisclosure agreement.

9. What actually happened with Stormy Daniels

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Daniels, a porn actress, was paid $130,000, at the arrangement of Trump's lawyer, before the 2016 election to keep quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump in the 2006. The White House denied that Trump had an affair with Daniels, but several people have publicly said that Daniels told them about the affair.

And last month, the magazine In Touch published an interview with Daniels in which she detailed a sexual liaison she had with Trump at a golf tournament.

But at other times Daniels has denied the affair. During an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Daniels played coy when asked if she had a nondisclosure agreement.

"Do I?" she replied. She also suggested that she did not know where a new document denying the affair, which she purportedly had signed, had come from.

CNBC reached out to the White House for comment about this story, and the apparent double standard that exists when it comes to the public's right to know. So far, we have not received a response.