The newspaper reported Tuesday that the president called Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to ask if a federal prosecutor perceived as an ally could be put in charge of the investigation into Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of the Southern District of New York, a donor to Trump’s campaign who was given the job by Trump, had previously been recused from the investigation because of his links to the president.
Trump dismissed the report as “fake news,” but Napolitano said it could spell trouble for the president if it turns out to be true.
“If the Times reporting is accurate, the phone call would be evidence of what?” Fox News anchor Shepard Smith asked.
“Corrupt intent,” Napolitano replied. “That is an effort to use the levers of power of the government for a corrupt purpose: to deflect an investigation into himself or his allies.”
He also said there’s a potential for charges of attempted obstruction of justice.
“It would only be obstruction if it succeeded,” he said. “But if you try to interfere with a criminal prosecution that may knock at your own door by putting your ally in there, that is clearly an attempt to obstruct justice.”
Napolitano called the Times report “dynamite, lengthy and well-documented.”
“Where it goes from here, I don’t know,” he said. “But I tell you who is reading it as we speak: Bob Mueller and team.”