Donald Trump will not use his executive power to block ex-FBI chief James Comey from testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee, his deputy press secretary has said.
Comey is set to speak on Thursday (8 June) amid speculation he would reveal discussions with the US president over the FBI's investigation of Russian attempts to influence the election and Trump's campaign team.
Trump is alleged to have pressured Comey to drop the investigation along with asking the bureau director for his "loyalty".
Deputy White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday (5 June) during the press briefing that although the president's power to do so is "very well established", Trump "will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey's scheduled testimony".
Sanders said this was "in order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee".
Many had been speculating that Trump could invoke what's known as 'executive privilege', essentially meaning that his conversations with Comey should be considered to be private and therefore withheld from Congress.
The idea behind executive privilege is that presidents should be able to receive candid advice from their aides without fear that it might be reproduced publicly or to Congress. Presidents from Nixon to Obama have attempted to claim it to keep some communications private.
James Comey was unceremoniously fired from his position as FBI Director by Trump in May. Reports suggested that Comey was attempting to get more funds for the Russia investigation and that Trump had personally asked Comey to drop the investigation, leading many to speculate that the investigation was the real reason behind Comey's sudden termination.
In one of his many Twitter tirades, Trump even threatened Comey over speaking to the press, suggesting he had tapes of their conversations. "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" the president wrote.