President Trump’s administration has decided not to invoke executive privilege to keep former FBI Director James Comey from testifying under oath before Congress.
“The president’s power to exert executive privilege is very well established,” [deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee] Sanders said at Monday’s White House press briefing. “However, in order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s scheduled testimony.”
She’s correct about the president’s power.
“There have been only four cases involving information access disputes between Congress and the executive, and two of these resulted in decisions on the merits,” [a recent CRS report] said. But since the Eisenhower era, every presidential administration through the Obama era had asserted executive privilege at least once when presented with a request from Congress.
Obama used executive privilege to keep the White House out of then-Attorney General Eric Holder and his Justice Department’s “Fast & Furious” gun-walking debacle. Obama’s defense was “George W. Bush did it.”
Trump has not resorted this kind of “they did it first” rhetoric. It’s not his style.
Actually, for all the brouhaha and media carping about Trump’s not releasing White House records and logs (or his tax returns, which is totally irrelevant), he’s been quite a bit more transparent than previous administrations. Trump thinks very publicly–we have a front-row seat to his brain, which is unfiltered and connected to his Twitter account.
Trump’s administration is probably the least likely to ever be convicted of a coverup–of anything. Allowing Comey to testify quickly will give Trump time to tweet or announce his response directly. This White House has no “messaging.” It exerts no executive privilege over anything. Trump does it all right in the open.