Unclear if Trump will block Comey's testimony

Gwen Vasquez
June 5, 2017

As the White House braces for fired FBI Director James Comey's Senate testimony next week, efforts continue to set up a so-called "war room" to handle questions about the investigation into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election, a senior administration official told CNN Saturday.

But two administration sources told the Times that he will likely allow Comey to go ahead with his testimony without an attempted challenge.

When pressed on the magnitude of the Russia investigation as the committee enters an important week of hearings, Collins said "there is so much speculation and so many stories and so many leaks that it's very hard to determine the facts of the Russian involvement in our elections last fall, the extent to that of that involvement, and also whether or not there was collusion or collaboration with members of President Trump's campaign team".

Trump, the official said, will start his infrastructure push on Monday with a Rose Garden speech that will propose separating all air traffic control operations from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Former CIA director John Brennan said last month he had noticed contacts between Trump's campaign associates and Russian Federation during the 2016 election and grew concerned Moscow had sought to lure Americans down "a treasonous path".

Senators are expected to question Comey about whether Trump asked him to drop an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Flynn's contacts with Russian government officials.

Trump asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, said a person who was given a copy of a memo Comey wrote about the conversation. Flynn was sacked after it was revealed that he mislead the Trump administration about his communications with a Russian envoy. He said invoking executive privilege would be on "shaky legal ground" and stressed that Comey deserved to have his "day in court" after repeated attacks by Trump and reports of undue pressure.

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If the White House did block Comey, it would also spark a political outcry and perhaps damage Trump even more than any unflattering testimony. Suffice to say, Abrams doesn't think claiming executive privilege would get Trump anywhere. The paper also reported that Trump asked Comey to pledge loyalty to the president, something Comey refused to do.

The associate says Comey still wants to testify and provide the "relevant facts" to the committee, CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.

The meeting is now part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump associates colluded with the Russians during the 2016 election. Normally, new management would review performance issues with existing staff before making drastic changes, so Comey has a legit beef on that point.

"There's a history of Congressional investigations messing up criminal prosecutions", Butler said.

As the Senate prepared for Comey's appearance, Trump appeared unlikely to try to block him for testifying. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, that Comey would be testifying before the committee on June 8.

Sollenberger said any argument in favor of privilege also could be overcome because the investigation is focused on corruption and possible obstruction of justice.

Legal experts have said that Trump's Twitter posts about Comey would damage any claim of executive privilege. Another main goal for the hearing on Capitol Hill is for Comey to clarify exactly what was said in his conversations with Trump, said Warner.

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