White House aide says Russia probe 'detracts' from agenda

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"The president's power to exert executive privilege is very well-established", Sanders said.

Comey is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a public hearing about his termination and the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Comey's hotly awaited appearance on Capitol Hill comes as probes by the Justice Department and several congressional committees heat up.

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. Senators are expected to grill Comey - in both an open and a closed panel - on certain conversations with Trump or his aides, including one in which Trump reportedly asked Comey to drop an investigation into former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynns dealings with Russian Federation and Turkey.

Comey's testimony probably will focus on the private meetings the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director had with Trump and subsequently chronicled in internal memos and recounted to associates who have divulged their contents to The Associated Press and other media outlets. Senators plan to ask Comey about those memos on Thursday. "You don't do that I think by invoking executive privilege on a conversation you had apparently with nobody else in the room". The power dates back to USA vs. Nixon, the 1974 Supreme Court case. He later tweeted that Comey better hope there are no "tapes" of their conversations.

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White House officials had weighed trying to block Comey by arguing that his discussions with the president pertained to national security and that there was an expectation of privacy.

"The claim of executive privilege requires that the communications in question be confidential".

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday the decision by the White House counsel's office hasn't been made yet. "Arguably, Trump has himself breached that confidentiality", Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman said in a Bloomberg op-ed.

However, she says Mr. Trump will not take that step in order to ensure a "swift and thorough examination of the facts" related to Comey's firing and the multiple investigations into Russia's election meddling.

Correction: Noah Feldman's statement originally appeared in a Bloomberg op-ed.

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