Trump may not block Comey’s key tes­ti­mony

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY HOPE YEN AND JULIE PACE

Days be­fore a highly an­tic­i­pated hear­ing, Pres­i­dent Trump ap­pears un­likely to try and block fired FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey from tes­ti­fy­ing, as a Se­nate panel pledged ag­gres­sive ques­tion­ing into whether the pres­i­dent sought to ob­struct a probe into his cam­paign’s re­la­tion­ship with Rus­sia.

Mr. Comey, ousted last month amid the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble Trump cam­paign ties to Rus­sia, is set to tes­tify Thurs­day be­fore the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee. The pub­lic hear­ing is ex­pected to shed light on his pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions with Mr. Trump in the weeks be­fore his dis­missal, in­clud­ing one dis­cus­sion in which the pres­i­dent al­legedly asked Mr. Comey to drop an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Michael Flynn and his Rus­sian con­tacts.

There’s been no fi­nal de­ci­sion as to whether Mr. 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. Mr. Trump is known to change his mind on ma­jor is­sues.

Law­mak­ers from both par­ties urged Mr. Trump not to stand in the way of Mr. Comey’s tes­ti­mony.

“Clearly, it would be very, very trou­bling if the pres­i­dent of the United States is in­ter­fer­ing in in­ves­ti­ga­tions that af­fect po­ten­tially the pres­i­dent and his clos­est as­so­ciates,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee. He said in­vok­ing ex­ec­u­tive priv­i­lege would be on “shaky le­gal ground” and stressed that Mr. Comey de­served to have his “day in court” af­ter re­peated at­tacks by Mr. Trump and re­ports of un­due pres­sure.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing no “smok­ing gun at this point,” Mr. Warner said he wants “to know what kind of pres­sure, ap­pro­pri­ate, in­ap­pro­pri­ate, how many con­ver­sa­tions he had with the pres­i­dent about this topic.”

For Thurs­day’s hear­ing, Mr. Trump could in­voke ex­ec­u­tive priv­i­lege by ar­gu­ing that dis­cus­sions with Mr. Comey per­tained to na­tional se­cu­rity and that he had an ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­vacy in get­ting can­did ad­vice from top aides. But le­gal ex­perts say Mr. Trump likely un­der­mined those ar­gu­ments be­cause he pub­licly dis­cussed the con­ver­sa­tions in tweets and in­ter­views.

Mr. Trump’s ar­gu­ment in fa­vor of priv­i­lege also may be over­come be­cause the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is fo­cused on cor­rup­tion and pos­si­ble ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.