WASHINGTON - President Trump will not try to assert executive privilege over conversations with James Comey, a spokesperson said Monday, clearing the way for the ex-FBI director's testimony before Congress on Thursday.
"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," said White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders.
She said "the president's power to exert executive privilege is very well-established,” but Trump would not exercise it in this case.
The Russia investigation is expected to be a key part of Comey's high-profile testimony on Thursday. A special counsel is looking into links between Trump's presidential campaign last year and Russians who sought to influence the election by hacking Democrats.
In firing Comey last month, Trump cited performance issues, while critics accused him of trying to close down the Russia probe. The Justice Department later appointed ex-FBI director Robert Mueller as the special counsel.
Associates of Comey said the former director kept notes of his conversations with Trump, including of a February meeting in which the president asked Comey to lay off an ongoing investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn — a topic that is sure to come up at the hearing.
Trump, meanwhile, reportedly told Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting that Comey was a "nut job" and that his dismissal would help get the Russia issue behind him.
Some legal analysts had questioned whether Trump could have blocked Comey's testimony via executive privilege in any event. The president and aides cannot be compelled to testify about private conversations, but Comey is appearing before senators voluntarily.
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