They were that worried Trump's son-in-law and top adviser could pose legal problems for the president as investigations into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election grow, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The lawyers had reason for concern: Kushner met with multiple Russians during the election, including in December separately with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Gorkov, a banker with direct ties to Vladimir Putin. Kushner also attended the now-infamous June 9, 2016, meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
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Kushner admitted to these meetings in a July 24 statement but denies he colluded with Russians to help Trump win the election. "I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government, Kushner said. "I had no improper contacts."
Not all of Trump's lawyers thought removing Kushner was a good idea, though. "I didn't agree with that view at all. I thought it was absurd," John Dowd, Trump's lead lawyer for the Russia probe as of July, told the Wall Street Journal.
Trump's former top Russia investigation lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, denies that such discussions ever took place. "I never discussed with other lawyers for the president that Jared Kushner should step down from his position at the White House, I never recommended to the president that Mr. Kushner should step down from that position and I am not aware that any other lawyers for the President made any such recommendation either," Kasowitz said in a statement.
But it appears Trump knew about the recommendation. According to the Journal, some of the lawyers met with the president in June to discuss Kushner's departure. After the meeting, White House press staffers even drafted a statement to explain why Kushner stepped down. Trump ultimately rejected the proposal, evidently because the lawyers didn't convince him that Kushner did anything to merit his firing.
This news is striking because of how important Kushner is to the administration. Not only does he have the familial ties, but he's also in charge of a sprawling portfolio that includes changing the way the federal government works to forging peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Kushner has led discussions with other foreign governments as well, most notably China. An administration source told Politico in February that Kushner acted as a "shadow secretary of state."
But that Kushner's job was in jeopardy — even for a little while — shows no one in Trumpworld is safe from the Russia probes.