After the Washington Post twice reported that Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son in law and a senior adviser to the president, is facing scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Kushner is reportedly considering a shakeup of his legal team due to a potential conflict between one of his attorneys, Jamie S. Gorelick, and Mueller, as the New York Times reports. Before Mueller was appointed to the special counsel role he and Gorelick were both partners at the DC-based law firm WilmerHale.
Following Mueller’s appointment, Gorelick says she advised Kushner to consult with other representation. However, conflicts like this aren’t unusual in Washington legal circles, and have in other instances been absolved with a written acknowledgment from the client.
But there might be another, more pressing, reason that Kushner is searching for alternatives to Gorelick. Several sources told the NYT that Trump has expressed his displeasure with Gorelick, which stems from her relationship with Mueller, whom the president has accused of organizing “the single greatest witch hunt in American history.”
Though if Kushner is truly in the market for new representation, he should probably pick an attorney sooner rather than later, because as more members of the Trump administration decide to lawyer up, the pool of top Washington talent available is bound to shrink.
“The outreach has come as a number of White House officials have mulled whether to hire personal lawyers. An aide to Vice President Mie Pence said Thursday that Mr. Pence had retained Richard Cullen. Other White House Officials are also considering hiring lawyers, and on Friday, the president added a well-known litigator, John M, Dowd, to his legal team.”
Congressional and FBI investigators are examining Kushner’s meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov, as well as his meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Russia’s state-owned Vnesheconombank, the country’s state-owned development bank, according to NYT. Specifically, investigators are interested in whether Kushner tried to arrange a secret back-channel with Moscow following Trump’s upset victory in the Nov. 8 US election. Though as the White House – and even WaPo – have said, such diplomatic encounters aren’t uncommon for officials working on an administration’s transition team, and they’re certainly not illegal.
The NYT’s sources say that Kushner could keep Gorelick on, while also hiring an experienced trial lawyer to compensate for some of her weaknesses. The paper says that Kushner is in discussions with Abbe D Lowell, who famously represented superlobbyist Jack Abramoff during his 2005 influence-peddling scandal.
“In contrast, people within Mr. Kushner’s circle recently reached out to some courtroom litigators about possibly joining his legal team. Among the lawyers contacted, one person said, was Abbe D. Lowell, a prominent trial lawyer whose previous clients include Jack Abramoff, the powerful Republican lobbyist, in a corruption scandal that shook Washington in 2005.”
“Mr. Lowell declined to comment.”
Kushner’s search for a trial lawyer also raises an important question: Will more senior members of the Trump administration be called to testify in the Congressional probe, possibly even Kushner himself? After the recent testimony from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it’s looking increasingly likely.