Some of Donald Trump’s lawyers wanted the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser to step down earlier this summer, as his ties to Russia became increasingly troubling.
According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the lawyers cited Kushner’s “legal complications with the ongoing Russia investigation” and worried that he would become a liability for the administration as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation intensified.
More from the report:
Among their concerns was that Mr. Kushner was the adviser closest to the president who had the most dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople during the campaign and transition, some of which are currently being examined by federal investigators and congressional oversight panels. Mr. Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, has said he had four such meetings or interactions.
Another issue was Mr. Kushner’s initial omission of any contacts with foreign officials from the form required to obtain a security clearance. He later updated the form several times to include what he has said were more than 100 contacts with foreign officials.
Not only did Kushner have several meetings with Russians during the campaign that he never disclosed, but he also tried to set up a secret communication channel between the president’s transition team and Russia.
As The New York Times reported in May, Kushner “spoke in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues.”
Kushner denies any wrongdoing, of course, but it’s important to keep in mind that also denied having meetings with Russians during the campaign until they later became uncovered by the media.
Despite all that, the Wall Street Journal noted that Trump defended his daughter’s husband.
“Mr. Trump wasn’t persuaded that Mr. Kushner needed to leave,” the newspaper reported. “One person said Mr. Trump’s view was that Mr. Kushner hadn’t done anything wrong and that there was no need for him to step down.”
Instead of pushing Kushner to leave the administration, the Trump team has since changed up its legal team, which seems to matter very little to Robert Mueller as he ratchets up his special counsel investigation.