While Donald Trump and his West Wing have maintained a unified front in public on Trump son in law Jared Kushner and his Russia dealings, the Wall Street Journal reports that behind the scenes a portion of the president’s legal team believed Kushner needed to resign from his role as an advisor in the White House. Trump’s lawyers came to this conclusion in June because they viewed Kushner as a legal complication in the Russia probe. The recommendation, though not unanimously endorsed by the president’s growing legal representation, made it to the president’s desk, where Trump dismissed it because of his belief that Kushner hadn’t done anything wrong, according to the Journal.
The problems for the Trump attorneys stemmed from the fact that Kushner had the most interactions (four) with Russian contacts during the campaign and transition and that Kushner had failed to report any contacts at all with foreign officials on his security clearance forms. Trump’s lawyers also worried that Kushner’s presence could inadvertently expand the scope of the Mueller investigation dragging other White House employees into the probe.
From the WSJ:
After some members of the legal team aired their concerns to Mr. Trump in June, including in at least one meeting in the White House, press aides to the legal team began to prepare for the possibility that Mr. Kushner would step down, drafting a statement explaining his departure, said people familiar with the matter…
Trump attorneys were also aware of a meeting that hadn’t yet been made public: one at Trump Tower in June 2016 that involved a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, Mr. Kushner and the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., according to people familiar with the matter… Anticipating that the meeting would become public, members of the legal team in June already had developed talking points to manage the political fallout—including a statement that would explain a potential Kushner resignation. The statement on behalf of Mr. Kushner expressed regret that the political environment had become so toxic that what he viewed as a standard meeting was becoming a weapon for Mr. Trump’s critics, according to two people familiar with the documents.
Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s longtime lawyer who headed his legal team through mid-July, said he never discussed Kushner’s resignation with other lawyers nor did he recommend Kushner step down to the president. John Dowd took over as Trump’s lead attorney from Kasowitz after joining the Trump team in June and said he did not agree with the assessment that Kushner needed to resign.