Trump may block Comey testimony

Former FBI Director James Comey will have the nation captivated next Thursday when he testifies before a Senate panel about the stunning accusations that President Donald Trump pressured him to end his investigation into his former national security adviser's ties to Russian Federation.

The issue will be front and centre this week in Washington, where former FBI Director James Comey is due to testify on whether Trump tried to get him to back off an investigation into alleged ties between Trump's election campaign and Moscow.

President Trump is not expected to invoke executive privilege in an attempt to block FBI Director James Comey from testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week.

The potential for explosive testimony from Comey that could impact a sitting president makes Thursday's hearing a highly anticipated event, akin to the hearings in the 1970s examining the Watergate scandal, said Linda Peek-Schacht, a political adviser who worked in President Jimmy Carter's White House.

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Comey, the source said, believed he was dealing with someone who did not quite grasp the inappropriateness of his actions, and that Comey thought the President could be "trained" how to interact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation director. Al Franken and Richard Blumenthal and others about Flynn and other Trump campaign operatives, Comey refused to comment on the pending FBI investigations. But legal experts say Trump likely undermined those arguments because he publicly discussed the conversations in tweets and interviews.

"This is extraordinarily complex and we have a wonderful staff", she said, "but I think we would benefit from having an experienced investigator" to oversee the probe, she said.

If Comey refuses to testify, Congress could subpoena him and then find him in contempt of Congress. "No court has ever allowed a president to use executive privilege to cover his own possible wrongdoing", explains CNN's Page Pate. However, a memo written by Comey suggested that the president asked him to end its investigation into Michael Flynn.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is dismissing as "a load of nonsense" the idea that Russia has damaging information on President Donald Trump and denies having any relationship with him. Comey's associates have said Comey told them Trump had asked for a pledge of loyalty to the president and later asked Comey to consider ending the investigation of Flynn. Comey lost his job and may well have influenced the American presidential election the last time he ignored these rules with headline grabbing revelations about the Hillary Clinton email probe.

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Putin downplayed Flynn's appearance with him at a December 2015 gala dinner in honor of the Russian television network Russia Today, which U.S. officials consider a state-run propaganda outlet.

"I will say, every member of the committee has been extremely active in reviewing the evidence that we do have so far". And I got up and left. "He used to be in the security services", Putin said. "That's the extent of my acquaintance with Mr Flynn", he added.

When Trump summarily dismissed FBI Director James Comey, the rumbling began anew - many critics alleged that Comey had only been fired to stymie any investigations into ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign and transition teams.

Information for this article was contributed by Hope Yen and Julie Pace of The Associated Press and by Jordan Robertson of Bloomberg News.

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