It's Possible Trump Could Block Comey Testimony

Welcome to the 'fuzzy' world of executive privilege
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2017 11:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – Don't be shocked if James Comey doesn't testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Thursday, as scheduled. Comey is sure to be asked about his conversations with President Trump, particularly as they relate to Michael Flynn, as part of an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but he could be blocked from speaking by Trump himself. As ABC News explains, Trump could invoke executive privilege, which gives the president the authority to withhold certain communications from the legislative and judicial branches of government if he can show that the need for secrecy outweighs, in this case, Congress' need for the information. Coming up with such an argument in this case might be difficult, however.

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An expert tells ABC that Trump would have to show Comey's testimony "would cause undo public harm by compromising national security or an ongoing investigation." Trump's own tweets about his conversations with Comey might also hurt an argument for secrecy. There's also the matter of public opinion: Blocking Comey from testifying might look as though Trump has something to hide. In an explainer on the issue, the New York Times notes that Comey's new status as a private citizen, as opposed to a government employee, also may complicate any White House effort to block him. In short, the entire issue is "fuzzy." Asked about the use of executive privilege Friday, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway didn't rule it out, saying "the president will make that decision," per Politico. (Obama invoked executive privilege in 2012.)

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