James Comey could be blocked from testifying about his firing by President Donald Trump, with the White House reportedly considering a controversial measure to keep the former FBI director from appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week.
The report comes as there has been increasing talk of impeachment proceedings starting if it could be proven that Trump fired Comey to stop the investigation into Russia. The former FBI director had been invited by the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify and was slated to appear next week;, an event expected to touch on alleged conversations with Donald Trump in which the president tried to get Comey to back off the investigations.
That testimony may not happen. Reuters reported on Friday that Donald Trump might be considering blocking James Comey’s testimony. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway hinted that Trump is considering using executive privilege to stop Comey from meeting with the Senate committee.
As Reuters noted, the move would likely be a controversial one.
“Legal experts say Trump could invoke a doctrine called executive privilege to try to stop Comey from testifying. But such a maneuver would likely draw a backlash and could be challenged in court, they said.
“Trump fired Comey on May 9, prompting a political firestorm and accusations by critics that he was improperly seeking to hinder an FBI probe into Russia’s role in the election and potential collusion by Trump’s campaign.”
As the Washington Post noted, James Comey’s testimony would not be able to reveal details of the Russia investigation but could shed light on allegations that Donald Trump impeded on the progress.
“Comey has alleged in memos that Trump asked him to pledge loyalty and to shut down his inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn,” the report noted. “Even if Comey can’t talk about sensitive details of an ongoing criminal investigation, legislators will likely want to inquire about his conversations with the president and the circumstances of his firing.”
Trump would be on “even shakier footing” in trying to block Comey, the report added.
There are already calls for Donald Trump to be impeached if was clear that he fired James Comey to stop the Russia investigation.
“If the president fired Comey because he had asked for loyalty and hadn’t gotten it, because he had asked him to ease off on the investigation of Flynn, because in effect he was asking him to ease off on the investigation of possible collusion by the Trump campaign with the Russians in subverting the election, that would be obstruction of justice, which is an impeachable offense,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, said in an interview on CNN (via the Washington Examiner).
The weeks after Comey’s firing have brought a string of new reports of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, including reports that Trump tried to lift sanctions on Russia just after taking office. The allegations of Trump’s ties to Russia claimed that Russia helped Trump by releasing hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief, John Podesta, in exchange for Trump lifting the sanctions crippling Russia’s economy.
Trump’s attempt to lift the sanctions were ultimately blocked, but there are new reports that Trump is planning to give Russia back facilities in the United States taken by President Barack Obama in the initial sanctions over the election interference.
It could be difficult for the White House to invoke executive privilege in stopping James Comey from testifying. As the Washington Post recalled, the Trump administration discussed invoking executive privilege with former acting Attorney General Sally Yates before her testimony last month, but she was ultimately able to testify.
[Featured Image by Zach Gibson/Getty Images]