White House says Trump will not try to block former FBI Director from testifying before Congress.
The White House will not try to block former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before Congress this week, The Hill reported Monday.
“President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s testimony,” White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was quoted as having said during a news briefing.
Sanders told reporters that the President’s right to “assert executive privilege is well-established” but that the White House wants to “facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts.”
Comey is schedule to testify before Congress on Thursday, his first public comments since Trump fired him last month, amid the FBI’s investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials.
The fired FBI director is expected to speak about any of his private conversations with the President that included talk about the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
On May 10th, the White House issued a statement which read: “President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
It noted that a search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.
Trump sent a letter to Comey, quoted by American media outlets, in which he informed the outgoing FBI Director, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”
“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Trump wrote.
Comey becomes only the second FBI chief to have been fired, noted Bloomberg News.
Comey reportedly kept detailed notes of his discussions with Trump, including one in which the President allegedly pressured him to ease off a probe into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and another in which Trump asked for his loyalty.
Last week, the White House refused to rule out the possibility that Trump would use executive privilege to stop Comey’s testimony.
The Justice Department recently appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
While Trump has accepted intelligence reports concluding that Russia engaged in cyber attacks during the November presidential election, he has repeatedly lambasted as “fake news” any suggestion that he or his staff had connections to Russia.
Russia denies the allegations altogether.
By: Ben Ariel