- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

President Trump last year asked former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker whether Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could oversee the investigation into hush payments made to women who alleged affairs with the president, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Mr. Berman had recused himself from the probe because he is a Trump appointee and had donated to the president’s 2016 campaign.

Mr. Whitaker knew Mr. Berman could not reverse his recusal, causing Mr. Trump to become frustrated with his acting attorney general, the Times reported.

When asked by reporters Tuesday afternoon if he talked to Mr. Whitaker about the recusal, Mr. Trump responded, “No, I don’t know who gave you that.”

The Times story directly contradicts Mr. Whitaker’s testimony earlier this month before a congressional committee. Mr. Whitaker said the president never pressured him over the investigations.

“At no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,” Mr. Whitaker said.

That statement has sparked scrutiny by some Democrat lawmakers whether Mr. Whitaker may have committed perjury.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Mr. Whitaker “stands by his testimony.”

Mr. Berman recused himself from an investigation of President Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen prior to the FBI raiding Cohen’s home.

That investigation resulted in Cohen pleading guilty to bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations. The campaign finance charges were related to payments made to silence two women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The president has denied the affairs.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and will testify before three congressional panels later this month.

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