The White House is refuting reports that some of President Donald Trump’s legal team had advised that his son-in-law Jared Kushner step down from his role as White House adviser.
Sources familiar with the matter told CNN the White House legal team discussed during the spring whether Kushner ought to step aside in order to protect the President from legal scrutiny over his associates’ interactions with Russians.
But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday there was “certainly no presentation” on the issue, when asked if the lawyers discussed that option.
“No. No conversation that I was aware of,” Sanders said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Monday that some of Trump’s legal team believed Kushner should have stepped aside before reports about his failure to disclose contacts with Russians during the transition became public this summer.
But one source tells CNN the idea was only brought up briefly in May, and others disagreed strongly with the suggestion that Kushner should step aside. The source claimed no knowledge that the idea was ever brought to Trump.
The source said that Kushner addressed the issue “convincingly,” pointing to Kushner’s handling of the revelations as proof that having him step down made no sense.
Although not unanimous in their conclusion that Kushner – a senior adviser to the President and the husband of his daughter, Ivanka Trump – should step down, the WSJ reported that some of the lawyers did voice their concerns to the President.
People familiar with the matter told the WSJ that staffers had begun to prepare a statement in case Kushner did ultimately resign. Kushner did not resign, however, and remains at the White House.
Trump attorney John Dowd denied the report, telling the paper that “to my knowledge” that line of thinking was never brought forth to the President.
“I didn’t agree with that view at all. I thought it was absurd,” Dowd told the Journal. “I made my views known.”
Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal lawyer, also issued a statement to the Wall Street Journal denying the report: “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.”
The paper reported that some of Trump’s lawyers were largely concerned with the fact that Kushner had the most interaction with Russians, some of whom are being investigated, while on the campaign and during the transition. Lawyers also noted that Kushner failed to accurately report his contact with foreign officials when applying for his security clearance, according to the Wall Street Journal’s report.
The allegation that Russia attempted to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election has led to several probes into the extent of the interference, and whether Trump’s campaign had any involvement. This includes multiple investigations in Congress, as well as a Justice Department investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Over the summer, Kushner submitted a statement to congressional committees, in which he denied any collusion with any foreign government: “I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” he said.
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.