(CNN) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied a New York Times report that he tried to interfere with the investigation of his former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
The Times said Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker if it would be possible to put a Trump supporter in charge of the investigation, despite the prosecutor’s previous recusal.
That prosecutor was Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, according to the Times, which reports the conversation between Trump and Whitaker happened late last year.
Cohen was being investigated for making pre-election hush money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump.
Whitaker was tapped to lead the Justice Department as acting attorney general in November after Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump repeatedly slammed for recusing himself from the Russia probe.
The Times said it’s unclear if Whitaker actually intervened as allegedly requested, but that Trump apparently had a falling out with him.
Trump praised Whitaker on Tuesday and called the report fake.
“I don't know who gave you that. That's more fake news. There's a lot of fake news out there," Trump said. "I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker. I think he's done a great job. He's a very, very straight shooter."
Whitaker was replaced last week by new Attorney General William Barr.