"We the People," a website launched by the Obama administration in 2011 to essentially fast-track petitions to White House staff, has been temporarily shut down.
The Associated Press reports that the platform will return in late January as a new site and that the move will save taxpayers $1.3 million a year, according to one White House official. No other details were disclosed.
This comes less than a week after the White House revamped their website, WhiteHouse.gov. "[The new site] adapts the U.S. web design standards and uses a style that is clean, simple and presidential," a White House official told the Washington Examiner. It was estimated by this official that the redesign could save taxpayers up to $3 million annually, a benchmark reportedly separate from the "We the People" maintenance savings.
According to Huffington Post, the White House is supposed to issue a response to any petition created on "We the People" if it collects over 100,000 signatures within 30 days. Initially, the threshold was 5,000.
However, the Trump administration has failed to respond to the 17 petitions that have merited that attention, such as one calling on Trump to release his tax returns and one, even, calling for his resignation.
The documents are no longer open for signatures, but there is an archieved version of "We the People" where they can be viewed in their state prior to the site's temporary deadlock.
The top-signed petition appears to be one entitled, "Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance," which received over 1.1 million signatures. It was created in Jan. 20, 2017, and has yet to be addressed but is on the list of documents the Trump administration promises to respond to once the website it up and running again.
A note on the site assures that these petitions will be preserved while maintenance is underway. It reads:
“Thank you for your interest in Petitions.WhiteHouse.gov. To improve this site's performance, the platform is currently down for maintenance and will return in late January.
All existing petitions and associated signatures have been preserved and will be available when the site is relaunched. Following the site's relaunch, petitions that have reached the required number of signatures will begin receiving responses.”
Anyone who wishes to receive more information about the "We the People" revamp can sign up for email updates on the site.