Trump not planning to invoke executive privilege for Comey testimony - NY Times

Trump not planning to invoke executive privilege for Comey testimony - NY Times

James Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, prompting many to wonder if Donald Trump would try to use executive privilege to prevent the ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation director from speaking.

There's been no final decision as to whether Trump would invoke executive privilege, and the matter remains under discussion, according to two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

Trump, the official said, will start his infrastructure push on Monday with a Rose Garden speech that will propose separating all air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The White House has been buffeted by a series of negative headlines regarding the Russian Federation investigation and whether associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russian Federation.

"Each of the relevant and ongoing investigations has focused on the question of collusion between President Trump's campaign and the Russian government", the lawmakers wrote.

Comey has alleged in memos that Trump asked him to pledge loyalty and to shut down his inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The move means Mr Mueller's politically-charged inquiry will now look into Mr Flynn's paid work as a lobbyist for a Turkish businessman previous year, in addition to contacts between Russian officials and Mr Flynn and other Trump associates during and after the Nov 8 presidential election.

Legal experts told The Times that Trump does not have a strong case to invoke the privilege due to his public acknowledgement of his conversations with Comey.

When asked whether Trump was considering the option, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC News on Friday that "the President will make that decision". "But I frankly think we need to hear Mr. Comey's side and find out what other questions we need to ask". Trump's public comments about Comey - including a series of critical tweets - would also hurt the case against executive privilege. "Does Mr Comey agree that that was what was said?"

Investigators - led by newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller III - are still working on the Russian Federation case.

"In the context of a criminal investigation, executive privilege has to give way", said Saikrishna Prakash, who lectures on constitutional law and the separation of powers at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

The former FBI chief is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also conducting an investigation into the election and possible collusion. Trump's known to change his mind on major issues.

One such leak alleged Trump had told Russian officials in the Oval Office that firing Comey "took the pressure off".

In his May 9 letter firing Comey, Trump said the former FBI director had informed him "on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation". The administration had discussions about privilege with former acting attorney general Sally Yates before she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Russian Federation and other matters last month.

If the president were to invoke privilege, it's possible that legal challenges would not go his way.

But as Sen. Graham noted, it's the political component to the testimony that the President's political enemies in the Democratic Party and the media are hoping to wield as a weapon against him.

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