Bombshell reporting from the New York Time on Monday outlining how Trump launched an even more intense and far reaching effort to obstruct investigations into him and his businesses.
We know that Trump hates the Russia investigation. He attacks Mueller by name, bashes the "witch hunt" and the angry Democrats. He attacks certain Democrats that he fears by (nick)name. These are the things we know.But there were a few extremely serious nuggets that we didn't know about, and if true, could lead to other parties facing charges of perjury - or more.
Matt Whitaker has long been rumored to be a mole planted inside the DOJ to feed information to Donald Trump about the Mueller investigation. But this report actually talks about something totally different: It alleges that Trump pressured him to try and force a Trump loyalist attorney from the SDNY to "unrecuse" himself from investigating the hush payment cases. (Ed. Note: This U.S. Attorney did not "recuse himself" but was recused under existing DOJ rules) Here is what they report:
"As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.
Mr. Whitaker, who had privately told associates that part of his role at the Justice Department was to “jump on a grenade” for the president, knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge because Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation. The president soon soured on Mr. Whitaker, as he often does with his aides, and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away."
This is a new and shocking revelation! The Times conducted dozens of interview with "current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump" and reviewed "confidential White House documents." This seems to be a well-sourced article.
Here is the problem for Whitaker. Just a few weeks ago, he told the House Judiciary Committee the following:
"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."
When asked for comment by the New York Times, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that ‘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."
Next steps could include Congress summoning Whitaker back to testify before the Oversight Committee to explain further. Or, if they are confident he lied, they could ask the DOJ to charge him with perjury, or they could bring contempt of Congress charges. Mueller could also subpoena him and force testimony. If he lies to Mueller, he will surely face charges as well. We know how well that turned out for others.
Expect to hear more about this.