An explosive new report from the New York Times reveals that President Donald Trump asked former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker if he could appoint a loyalist to oversee investigations being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
According to the Times' report, Trump called Whitaker and asked him if he could put Trump ally Geoffrey S. Berman in charge of the multiple SDNY probes that have been swirling around former "fixer" Michael Cohen and potential corruption at the president's inaugural committee.
Whitaker said that such an action was impossible, however, because Berman had already recused himself from overseeing those investigations. This angered Trump and caused him to "sour" on Whitaker as an acting attorney general, the Times reports.
The revelation that Whitaker was asked by Trump whether he could install Berman to oversee the SDNY probes seems to conflict with testimony he gave to Congress earlier this month when he denied Trump had ever pressured him to influence any of the multiple investigations being conducted into him and his associates. According to the Times, House Democrats are now investigating potentially pursuing perjury charges against Whitaker.
Trump's efforts to get an ally put in charge of investigations being conducted into his presidency and his businesses could constitute obstruction of justice if it can be established that the president acted with corrupt intent.