U.S. President Donald Trump will not block James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), from testifying before Congress over the Russia probe, the White House said Monday.
"In order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the fact sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey's scheduled testimony," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a daily press briefing.
Comey, who was fired by Trump in May, is scheduled to testify in a hearing before the Senate on Thursday. He is expected to be asked about details surrounding his dismissal and the onging FBI probe into the alledged collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump campaign.
According to previous court rulings, the U.S. president has the power to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches to access information and personnel relating to the executive branch.
"The president's power to assert executive privilege is well established," Sanders said at the briefing.
Comey has been the epicenter of much of Washington's political drama since last year's presidential election, when he twice opened probes into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's improper handling of classified emails, which Hillary said partly contributed to her defeat.
After revelations of a possible collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russian government came to light after his ascension to the White House, Comey was reportedly asked by Trump to drop the investigation into the matter, in particular regarding former Presidential National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
The former FBI chief has reportedly wrote in a memo that Trump asked him to shut down the FBI's probe into Flynn, who is also one of Trump's top aides during the campaign.
The Trump administration fired Comey in early May, citing his handling of the Clinton email investigation during the 2016 U.S. elections. But Trump himself has repeatedly said that the Russia probe was on his mind when he removed Comey.
Thursday's hearing will be the first time for Comey to make public remarks on the issues, which will have significant implications, including possibly prompting the U.S. Congress to launch a investigation into possible Russian links in the White House.