Acting Attorney General Whitaker was told about Cohen deal before it went public: report

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was reportedly given advance notice of the guilty plea submitted Thursday from President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE’s former longtime attorney Michael Cohen.

The Washington Post reports that Whitaker was notified by Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s office in advance of Thursday’s plea, though how long Whitaker knew about Cohen’s impending plea is unclear.

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As the top official overseeing the Mueller investigation, Whitaker is required under Justice Department guidelines to be notified of developments made in major investigations.

“The Special Counsel shall notify the Attorney General of events in the course of his or her investigation in conformity with the Departmental guidelines with respect to Urgent Reports,” reads Justice Department regulation.

Considered a top ally of the president, Whitaker has so far resisted complaints from Democrats that his office could be used to hinder Mueller’s investigation, but Thursday’s development in the case seems to indicate that Whitaker did not inform the White House about Cohen’s deal.

Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about a business arrangement pursued by the Trump Organization in 2016 to develop a hotel in Moscow, where the penthouse suite was reportedly to be offered to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As part of his plea, Cohen admitted Thursday to minimizing his explanation of Trump’s business dealings in Russia with the hopes of deterring investigations into the president’s campaign.

Trump reacted in a statement to reporters Thursday before leaving Washington for the Group of 20 summit in Argentina, calling his former attorney a “weak person” and a liar.

“He's a weak person and what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence,” Trump told reporters at the White House. ”So, he's lying about a project that everybody knew about.”