Senator Ernst on Comey's upcoming testimony

Senator Ernst on Comey's upcoming testimony

Former FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify next week before the Senate intelligence committee, but President Donald Trump may try to stop him by asserting executive privilege.

The House panel pursuing its own investigation of the Trump campaign and possible Russian Federation ties has also sought information from Comey, asking the FBI to turn over documents related to his interactions with both the White House and the Justice Department.

The White House is reviewing whether to invoke executive privilege to prevent former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey from testifying before a congressional panel next week.

Putin suggested that skilled hackers anywhere, including the USA, could shift the blame for hacking onto Russian Federation.

Trump could invoke executive privilege by arguing that discussions with Comey pertained to national security and that he had an expectation of privacy in getting candid advice from top aides. It marked the first time the White House had officially acknowledged that outside counsel had been retained.

After invoking the privilege, the president can direct current and former government officials to not divulge information.

But being anxious about potentially embarrassing testimony is not a sufficient basis to invoke executive privilege.

The term was not coined until the 1950s, but most presidents have invoked some version of it, said Mark Rozell, a professor of government at George Mason University. President Barack Obama used the legal authority once, during congressional inquiries after weapons ended up in the possession of Mexican gun cartels.

Mr. Comey was cleared to testify by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, another former FBI director now overseeing the investigation into all things Russian Federation. The GOP staffer, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the chairman has the authority to sign off on subpoenas and that all the committee rules were followed. But that is also thought to be one of the more likely outcomes of at least portions of Comey's testimony.

Comey can also expect to field questions about Trump's claims that Comey told him three separate times that he was not under investigation as part of the Russian Federation probe. Even so, "violating executive privilege isn't a crime", explained Jens David Ohlin, an associate dean at Cornell Law School. But Comey, now a private citizen, no longer has to listen to him, and it's unlikely a court would prevent him from testifying. He said he had yet to see any evidence of Russian meddling and drew a connection between the allegations against Russia and the theory that US intelligence agencies arranged the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Congress voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to turn over the records.

It would be procedurally complicated to challenge a decision by Trump to block Comey's testimony.

Trump's plan looks to make good on a campaign promise, but is also a clear attempt to offer a distraction - albeit a less controversial one - to what Comey is expected to say when he testifies in an open Senate hearing on Thursday. Then Congress would have to find Comey in contempt if he refused. Richard Nixon tried to use executive privilege and lost.

According to sources quoted in a new report by Reuters, that delay is the result of a "chaotic" recruiting process in which "job interviews led by Trump have been brief".

Trump has also said those accusations are far-fetched. Whatever Comey tells Congress isn't going to get Trump in legal trouble, so the White House has seemingly (and wisely) concluded that it's just better to get past it quickly.

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