As New York federal prosecutors gathered evidence last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Trump asked acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker whether U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the investigation, the New York Times reports. Whitaker could not put Berman in charge because Berman had recused himself. The president soon soured on Whitaker and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department.
The Times contends that Trump has conducted “an even more sustained, more secretive assault … on the machinery of federal law enforcement.” White House lawyers wrote a confidential memo expressing concern about the president’s staff peddling misleading information in public about the firing of Michael Flynn, the first national security adviser. Trump had private conversations with Republican lawmakers about a campaign to attack the Mueller investigation. Whitaker, who told a congressional committee that Trump had never pressured him over various investigations, is now under scrutiny by House Democrats for possible perjury. Trump denied that he had asked Whitaker if Berman could be put in charge of the investigation of silencing women. “No, I don’t know who gave you that, that’s more fake news,” Trump said. “There’s a lot of fake news out there. No, I didn’t.”