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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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 19,282,972 — Total deaths: 718,851 — Total recoveries — 11,671,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:45 p.m. ET: 4,937,441 — Total deaths: 161,248 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Warren and Clinton to speak on same night of Democratic convention

(Photos: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton both are slated to speak on the Wednesday of the Democratic convention — Aug. 19 — four sources familiar with the planning told Axios.

Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation. Clinton and Warren represent two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November.

Trump considering order on pre-existing condition protections, which already exist

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday he will pursue an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, something that is already law.

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration is currently arguing in a case before the Supreme Court to strike down that very law — including its pre-existing condition protections.