President Donald Trump won’t assert executive privilege when it comes for fired FBI Director James Comey’s pending testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White House announced on Monday.
The move means that Comey will be free to testify on Thursday without the cloud of whether Trump can prevent him from talking about the nature of their conversations since he took office.
“The President’s power to assert executive privilege is well-established. 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,” the White House said in a statement.
Even if Trump had tried to assert executive privilege, there had been doubts about whether it would have prevented Comey from simply holding a news conference or interview. Trump himself has talked about the nature of his conversations with Comey, which could affect how courts would view a claim that such conversations are confidential.
Comey is expected to address whether Trump tried to influence the FBI’s investigation of Russian influence into the 2016 election, including a probe of Michael Flynn, who resigned as Trump’s national security adviser in February. According to the New York Times, Comey kept detailed memos of their meetings, including one from a day after Flynn’s departure in which Trump was quoted as saying, “I hope you can let this go,” about the Flynn investigation.
Comey was fired as FBI director last month.