Now that Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, he seems to be banking the idea that Comey is too much of a law-and-order guy to dare violate executive privilege by blabbing about what all he really knows. But because Trump posted an amateur-hour letter firing Comey that didn’t appear to have been run past an attorney, the wording of his letter may have just cost him that executive privilege.
Donald Trump tried to use the letter to paint himself as innocent on the Russia scandal by inserting a rather bizarre claim in the middle of it, by asserting that Comey had “informed me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation” (link). The immediate trouble for Trump is that most people don’t believe that claim on its face, because Comey is indeed too much of a law-and-order guy to have made that kind of remark about an ongoing investigation.
But the bigger trouble is that, by disclosing a supposed private conversation with Comey about the Russia investigation, Trump may have unwittingly forfeited the executive privilege that he had with Comey. And if so, it means that Comey is now legally free to refute Trump’s claims and set the record straight. I’m not an attorney, but it’s been my suspicion that Trump did forfeit executive privilege with his letter, and on MSNBC Hardball today, guest Carole Lee raised the same sentiment.
This places increased significance on the fact that James Comey is now scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday (link), even in spite of – or perhaps now because of – his firing. Comey is surely speaking to legal experts about the matter and will make his own determination as to whether Trump forfeited executive privilege, when it comes to deciding how much internal dirt he can now legally reveal. Help fund Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report