Trump disputes report about call with Whitaker over probe into hush money payments

Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during a signing event for "Space Policy Directive 4" in the Oval Office on Feb. 19, 2019, in Washington. Copyright Evan Vucci AP
By Jane C. Timm with NBC News Politics
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Trump disputed a new report that he sought to get an ally in charge of one criminal investigation.


President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied a report that he called Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and asked him if it would be possible to put an ally in charge of an investigation into alleged hush money payments.

"No, not at all, I don't know who gave you that," Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the report by The New York Times.

The Times, citing several officials with direct knowledge of the call, reportedthat Trump asked Whitaker whether the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, described by The Time as an ally of the president, could be put atop the investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan into payments during the 2016 campaign to women who alleged affairs with Trump, which the president has denied.

The Times reported that Whitaker knew he could not put Berman in charge of the probe because he was recused from the investigation.

Whitaker, who was replaced as the nation's top law enforcement official by William Barr last week, has told Congress that Trump never pressured him over various investigations.

Trump praised Whitaker in his brief White House remarks on Tuesday, saying they have a "very good" relationship. "I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker. He's doing a very good job," Trump said.

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