On Friday, media speculation emerged that the Trump administration may seek to block former FBI director James Comey's testimony scheduled for next Thursday after White House officials said that they did not know yet whether President Donald Trump would seek to block Comey's testimony, a move that would spark another huge political backlash against the president. Speaking to reporters, Sean Spicer said "I have not spoken to counsel yet. I don't know how they're going to respond."
As a reminder, the former FBI chief who was leading a probe into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election and was fired by Trump last month, is due to testify on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its own Russia-related investigation, and his remarks could "cause problems" for the Republican president per Reuters.
While invoking executive privilege can be a politically treacherous move, recalling past scandals like Watergate, in which Nixon asserted the power in efforts to block congressional investigations, it is worth recalling that in 2012 none other than former President Barack Obama used the legal authority once, during congressional inquiries into the "Fast and Furious" scandal, after weapons ended up in the possession of Mexican gun cartels. Obama was later sued by Congress for his decision to block lawmakers from viewing documents related to the gun-running scandal.
As Reuters further adds, "presidents can assert executive privilege to prevent government employees from sharing information. However, legal experts say it is not clear whether certain conversations between Trump and Comey that the president has talked about publicly would be covered, and any effort to block Comey, who is now a private citizen, from testifying could be challenged in court." Furthermore, Trump’s tweets about Mr. Comey would damage any claim of executive privilege.