Could Trump muzzle Comey? A look at executive privilege

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The subpoenas were announced Wednesday as the special counsel overseeing the government's investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation has authorized former FBI Director James Comey to testify before the Senate intelligence committee, according to a Comey associate.

What Comey is allowed to say publicly will be constrained by the ongoing federal investigation, which is now being led by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked Friday if President Trump would invoke executive privilege to prevent Comey from speaking.

"That committee hearing was just notice and I think, obviously, it has got to be reviewed", he said.

It seemed to some that Comey's statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee just before he was sacked may have affirmed the White House's position, because that quote was often heard without the question. I haven't spoken to counsel yet.

While the Trump administration said Comey was sacked over how he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation last year, the president has said the Russian Federation investigation this year was on his mind when he dismissed Comey.

If the president made a decision to try to assert executive privilege here, he would either need Sen.

Did James Comey Lie About Interference In The Russia Investigation?
Trump said last month he was planning on firing Comey and was thinking of Russian Federation when he ultimately made his decision. The president has the authority to block testimony by his current or former aides by invoking executive privilege.

In his conversations with Comey, Trump allegedly pressured the Federal Bureau of Investigation director to ease off his former national security adviser Michael Flynn and requested the law enforcement official's loyalty. But such a maneuver would draw a backlash and could be challenged in court, they said.

"If a president wants an executive privilege, it's typically negotiated with the committee and not with the witness". The court ruled that President Richard Nixon's audio recordings of White House conversations should be turned over to prosecutors.

The Senate panel also plans to hear at some point from Mr Jared Kushner, Mr Trump's son-in-law and one of his closest White House aides.

But Trump likely undermined those arguments because he has already discussed the conversations in tweets and interviews, according to Mitch Sollenberger, a political science professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

"On March 20, we asked then-FBI Director Comey to investigate Attorney General Sessions' false testimony and any additional contacts he may have had with Russian officials, including reports that he may have met with the Russian ambassador at a small, private Trump campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016".

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Friday she doesn't believe Trump should try to block Comey's appearance. "This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey". In February, Comey wrote a memo that suggested Trump asked him to shut down the probe into Flynn.

However, legal experts and some Democrats acknowledge that specific actions would have had to occur to meet the standard of obstruction of justice, such as paying a bribe, not merely asking Comey to let Flynn go.