White House temporarily removes petition tool

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is temporarily removing a petition tool from its website after 11 months of silence, promising to respond to public concerns next year.

The Trump administration said the platform, used extensively by critics and less frequently by allies, will be removed at midnight Tuesday and return in late January as a new site.

A White House official said all existing petitions and responses will be restored next year, when petitions that reach the required 100,000 signatures will begin receiving responses.

The Trump administration has yet to respond to any of the 17 petitions that have reached that threshold since Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017.

Among them are petitions calling on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns and to place his assets in a blind trust. Others that have reached 100,000 signatures call on Trump to both preserve and cease funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The official said the move will save taxpayers $1.3 million annually. Initially named “We the People” by the Obama administration, the site launched in 2011.