Mr. Berman had recused himself from the probe because he is a Trump appointee and had donated to the president's 2016 campaign. The Times story was team-reported by Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos and Michael S. Schmidt.
"There's a lot of fake news out there - no, I didn't", President Trump told reporters.
The Times reported Tuesday that Trump called Whitaker late past year and asked him to put Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of NY who worked on the Trump transition's legal team in 2017, in charge of the investigation into Cohen and payments made to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. Cohen has since pleaded guilty to various charges, including campaign finance.
Democrats have accused Trump of "obstruction of justice" or intentionally trying to prevent an investigation.
"The odd thing, I think, that's bothered a lot of people both in and out of the intelligence community, is this unusual personal deference to Putin by the president", Clapper said.More news: The 'Super Snow Moon' makes an appearance over Cleveland
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It also said Trump has publicly attacked special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation more than 1,000 times, based on public statements or tweets since he entered office. He added, "That is an effort to use the levers of power of the government for a corrupt goal to deflect an investigation into himself or his allies". If it doesn't, if it basically says, hey, we would have indicted Donald Trump for these offenses, but for the fact that there's a policy memo saying we can't, then I think Congress has to really look at these issues and decide what to do with whatever offenses the Robert Mueller investigation reveals. He has also gone after John Brennan, who formerly served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and even questioned whether his own outgoing deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, is conflicted.
"It's a principle that previous occupants of the Oval Office fiercely defended regardless of their politics, party affiliation, or complaints about how they were covered", Sulzberger said.
Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion and other crimes he said were undertaken at Trump's bidding.
Material from Bloomberg was used in this story.