WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump won’t block former FBI Director James Comey from testifying Thursday in an open Senate session, the White House said Monday.
At issue was whether Trump would invoke executive privilege to prevent Comey, whom he ousted May 9, from divulging to the intelligence committee the pair’s private conservations.
Comey is scheduled to speak publicly for the first time since he was fired and since several news outlets reported that his memos showed that Trump asked him to drop his probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Senators also are expected to ask the former FBI chief about any interference by the Trump team in the bureau’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether the president demanded his loyalty in a meeting.
“The president’s power to assert executive privilege is very well established,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday. “However, in order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s scheduled testimony.”
Legal scholars said they believe Trump’s case for executive privilege was weakened because the president already has talked and tweeted about his conversations with Comey.
Trump told NBC News he believed Comey to be a “showboat” and “grandstander.”
Asked at a news conference whether he pressured Comey to drop the Flynn probe, Trump had said, “No. No. Next question.”
Trump tweeted on May 12: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
Trump has not yet selected a new FBI director.