Then-acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker shaking President Trump's hand. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump late last year called acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to ask whether a Trump-appointed attorney could "unrecuse" himself in order to lead the Southern District of New York's investigation into hush money payments during the 2016 election, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: There is no indication that Whitaker took any steps to appoint Trump ally Geoffrey Berman to lead the investigation, which had ensnared the president's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen. But Whitaker, who has reportedly told colleagues that part of his job was to "jump on a grenade" for the president, testified to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month that Trump had never pressured him to intervene in any investigation.

  • House Democrats are now pursuing a formal deposition of Whitaker as they scrutinize whether he committed perjury.
  • Asked Tuesday whether the "unrecusal" conversation with Whitaker ever occurred, Trump responded: "No, not at all. I don’t know who gave you that. That's more fake news."

The big picture: The Times piece reveals a number of unreported incidents over the course of the two last years that shed light on Trump's extensive efforts to derail the various investigations that threaten his presidency.

  • After former national security adviser Michael Flynn was fired for lying about his contacts with Russian officials, Trump directed then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer to tell reporters that the president asked for his resignation — which the White House counsel later concluded was misleading.
  • In the summer of 2017, after the president threatened to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, one of Trump's lawyers reportedly reached out to attorneys for Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to discuss possible pardons.

The bottom line: There are more than 1,100 instances of Trump publicly attacking the Russia investigations. This, the Times notes, has been "a public relations strategy as much as a legal strategy."

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Supreme Court denies Pennsylvania GOP request to limit mail-in voting

Protesters outside Supreme Court. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from Pennsylvania's Republican Party to shorten the deadlines for mail-in ballots in the state. Thanks to the court's 4-4 deadlock, ballots can be counted for several days after Election Day.

Why it matters: It's a major win for Democrats that could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. The court's decision may signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

Microphones will be muted during parts of Thursday's presidential debate

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates adopted new rules on Monday to mute microphones to allow President Trump and Joe Biden two minutes of uninterrupted time per segment during Thursday night's debate, AP reports.

Why it matters: In the September debate, Trump interrupted Biden 71 times, compared with Biden's 22 interruptions of Trump.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  4. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  5. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  6. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  7. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.