Trump fumed at Whitaker over Cohen guilty plea: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE reportedly fumed to his acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, after his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty last month for misstatements he made to Congress while testifying about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

CNN reported Friday that Trump has spoken to Whitaker at least twice in recent weeks, venting his frustration that prosectors in the Justice Department filed charges that made him look bad. 

Trump suggested the New York prosectors were out of line and questioned Whitaker about why more wasn't being done to rein them in, sources told CNN.


The outlet reported that Trump lashed out at Whitaker following Cohen's guilty plea on Nov. 29 and again after federal prosecutors in Manhattan implicated him in a scheme to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women claiming past affairs with Trump, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. He also pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law, suggesting that he violated the law at Trump’s direction. The charges stemmed from a $130,000 nondisclosure payment he gave to Daniels to silence the adult-film star about her alleged affair. Cohen, without naming Trump directly, said he was instructed to make the payment at Trump's direction.

Trump chose Whitaker to fill the acting attorney general role after Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMueller's investigation ends, but divisive political circus will continue Mueller delivers report to Justice, ending investigation Trump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report MORE resigned as the Justice Department's top cop. Whitaker had only been in the role for a few weeks when Cohen pleaded guilty.

Trump has since tapped William Barr as his nominee for attorney general. 

Both Whitaker and Barr have drawn scrutiny for their previous criticisms of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Barr in June sent the Department of Justice a spontaneous memo criticizing the probe into Russia's election meddling and any possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

Barr criticized Mueller’s team last year over donations some of its lawyers had made in the past, telling the Post in 2017, “prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party.”

A government watchdog group on Friday urged the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate whether Whitaker violated federal ethics standards when he decided not to recuse himself from involvement in Mueller's Russia probe.

Trump has repeatedly denounced Mueller's probe, often labeling it as a "witch hunt."

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department and the White House for comment.