White House could still block Comey's testimony next week

James Comey's highly anticipated testimony to Congress on Thursday might not go forward at all if the Trump White House exercises its power to block it.
By Ian Marsh | Jun 05, 2017
James Comey's highly anticipated testimony to Congress on Thursday might not go forward at all if the Trump White House exercises its power to block it. Trump could cite "executive privilege" and prohibit the fired FBI director from making his scheduled address to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

"I have not spoken to counsel yet, I don't know how they're going to respond," White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters when asked if the president would go this route.

Executive privilege is a concept that authorizes the president to withhold certain information from Congress if necessary to protect national security or to safeguard sensitive, private conversations the president has had with administration officials. President George W. Bush exercised executive privilege to stymy investigations into White House attorney firings, while Obama cited executive privilege to block some testimony during Congressional hearings into the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.

Were Trump to cite executive privilege, Democrats in Congress would be certain to challenge it. Democratic lawmakers have already argued that since Trump has publicly spoken about his conversations with Comey, executive privilege would not apply. Trump would also risk a more widespread public backlash.

The Senate committee is expected to ask Comey about his private conversations with Trump and the degree to which Trump may have obstructed the FBI's investigations into Trump campaign interactions with Russian officials. In one of these conversations, Trump reportedly asked Comey to desist an investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump's ousted national-security advisor; and in another, he asked Comey to assure him of his loyalty.

 

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