Let’s say you’re a lawyer and a whole lot of people, including a whole bunch of lawmakers and members of the intelligence community, seem to be under the impression that your client may have had improper dealings with a foreign government.
One of the things you, as counsel, would probably be concerned with is making sure you do everything in your power to dispel the notion that any vestiges of undue foreign influence are still lingering around the people you represent. Because you know, that looks bad.
Well as it turns out, that’s exactly what at least some members of the President’s legal team told Donald Trump about Jared Kushner earlier this year.
“Some of President Donald Trump’s lawyers earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down as senior White House adviser because of possible legal complications related to a probe of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election and aired concerns about him to the president,” WSJ reports, in an article out late Monday evening.
Elaborating, the Journal notes that the lawyers’ concerns were based on the “flimsy” (sarcasm alert) rationale 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.”
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.
In other words, Trump’s lawyers thought maybe it wasn’t the best idea for the President to have, as a key adviser, someone who is himself under the microscope for the very same possibly nefarious dealings that Trump is suspected of. It’s kind of like how, if your neighbors thought you might have robbed a bank, you wouldn’t want to be having dinner parties every night with someone who was also suspected of being a bank robber. It’s not as much a legal strategy as it is common sense.
But common sense isn’t something Donald Trump has been accused of exercising very often during this administration, so it shouldn’t surprise you that he did not take the advice of his lawyers.
According to at least two sources cited by the Journal, aides even went so far as to draft a resignation later for Kushner which “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.” The reference there is of course to the now infamous Trump Tower meeting.
Of course John Dowd says he didn’t agree with the notion that Kushner should step down and Marc Kasowitz is denying the whole thing. But again, there doesn’t seem to be anything to disagree with or deny here.
If you’re an attorney and you think it’s a good idea to have Jared Kushner hanging around the White House given everything that’s emerged about his foreign contacts and given the ongoing Mueller probe, you’re incompetent and probably shouldn’t be allowed to practice law. Consider this, from the same article:
Some of Mr. Trump’s attorneys worried that Mr. Kushner’s continued employment carried risks that could possibly involve other White House officials, a person familiar with the matter said.
If, for example, Mr. Kushner mentioned the probe—even casually in a meeting—aides who heard his remarks could face inquiries from Mr. Mueller’s agents.
Right. And don’t think Mueller doesn’t know that.
In any event, this looks like just another example of Trump shooting himself in the foot by failing to take good advice even when what’s being communicated to him is so self-evident that even a petty crook could understand it.