Transcript for Trump denies he asked acting AG to replace prosecutor
warned he would develop weapons that would hit our decision making centers. President trump’s campaign to derail the investigation of his aign. The president is denying “The New York Times” report that he asked the acting attorney general if he could replace the prosecutor investigating Michael Cohen’s hush money payments to stormy Daniels. Our senior white house correspondent Cecilia Vega has the latest. Good morning, Cecilia. Reporter: Good morning to you. This report is raising even more questions about possible obstruction of justice, just as the special counsel appears close to wrapping up his investigation. From president trump an adamant denial. No, not at all. I don’t know who gave you that. Reporter: He’s refuting a “New York Times” report claiming he asked his former acting attorney general Matt Whitaker to interfere in the investigation into hush money paid to stormy Daniels and karenen Mcdougal. The paper says as federal prosecutors investigated those payments, the president asked Whitaker to appoint a more sympathetic U.S. Attorney to lead the probe. According to “The times,” the president’s pick, Jeffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of new York who had already recused himself because of his close ties to the president’s current firing back saying Whitaker stands by his testimony to congress. At no time has the white house asked for, nor have I ny promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation. Reporter: But as for that specific investigation in new denial from Whitaker. Did you ever have any conversations with anybody about reassigning or firing any personnel including U.S. Attorneys with the southern district of New York. Congresswoman, I sit on top of the department of justice as you mention. Reporter: In the end president trump ended up praising Whitaker saying he’s got a lot of respect for him but Democrats on capitol hill are much more critical. The house judiciary committee is asking whether Whitaker lied him back for more questioning. Okay, thanks. Let’s bring in Dan Abrams. Thanks for joining us. Let’s talk first this reported phone call from the president to the acting attorney general and says, can I replace the prosecutor? How bad? So, it’s not just the issue that the department of justice is supposed to be autonomous. They are supposed to be this place where they make the decisions for themselves. The reason this is particularly inappropriate is because this relates to the president himself. It’s not just about the president calling the department of justice and trying to affect, impact an investigation. It’s an investigation that impacts him himself. With that said, you read this report carefully and it does not say that Whitaker was ordered, was directed. He was asked. You look at the details did the president just call him and say how does this work? Can Berman be back there or is this the sort of thing that can’t be changed. That might be inappropriate but not illegal. The question when you look at the entire pattern, the firing of James Comey and the threats investigation and against Robert Mueller, the attacks from the president, does that add up to obstruction of justice? What does Mueller do about it? That’s ultimate question. It means this report rings true. This certainly seems like something president Donald Trump would do and probably does do. Does it rise to the level of obstruction of justice. How much power does one think that the president has to do whatever he wants? And if you believe that the president has the authority to call the department of justice, change things in the department of justice — Even if it’s ill-motivated. Meaning to protect himself, if you think he has that absolutely power then it’s not obstruction of justice. But there’s no question this is an effort if you believe it to obstruct justice. The question is, is that illegal obstruction of justice? Thanks very much. Now to that new twist in the
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