WASHINGTON — Representatives of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, have quietly contacted high-powered criminal lawyers about potentially representing him in the wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 election, according to three people briefed on the matter.
Some of Kushner’s allies have raised questions about the link between his current lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, and Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one of the people who spoke on condition of anonymity. Before the Justice Department named him to the special counsel post, Mueller was a law partner with Gorelick at the Washington firm of WilmerHale.
Such connections are common in Washington legal circles and are often resolved by an acknowledgment from the client of the possible conflict. In this case, Gorelick urged Kushner to consider other representation first.
In recent days, Kushner has had discussions with at least one prominent trial lawyer, one of the people said. And if If Kushner chooses to hire a new lawyer, this person may either supplement or replace Gorelick’s team.
So far, Kushner’s legal team remains unchanged. Gorelick, who has repeatedly said Kushner will cooperate with all Russia-related inquiries, is preparing him for a meeting with investigators for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Kushner also provided a statement on Sunday from Gorelick describing the recent discussions with other lawyers as seeking advice as opposed to replacing or adding to his legal team.
“After the appointment of our former partner Robert Mueller as special counsel, we advised Mr. Kushner to obtain the independent advice of a lawyer with appropriate experience as to whether he should continue with us as his counsel,” the statement from Gorelick said.
The outreach to other lawyers began last month, the people briefed on the matter said, when news reports revealed that at a meeting with Russia’s ambassador in December, Kushner had reportedly discussed establishing a secret communication channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow. Mueller’s investigators are examining Kushner’s contacts with Russian officials as part of a broader investigation into whether any Trump advisers colluded in Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has denounced Mueller’s investigation, describing it on Twitter on Thursday as a “witch hunt” led by “some very bad and conflicted people.”
Given the president’s sentiments, he might view any link to Mueller with suspicion, including Gorelick’s representation of Kushner, according to one person who has been contacted about the matter. An official close to the president disputed that, saying Trump is pleased with Gorelick’s representation of his son-in-law.
Although Gorelick is a well-known lawyer who has often handled complex cases involving government investigations — and some of her colleagues on her team are noted courtroom litigators — she is not primarily a trial lawyer.
In contrast, people within 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. Lowell is currently defending Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, against federal corruption charges.
Lowell declined to comment.
The outreach has come as a number of White House officials have mulled whether to hire personal lawyers. An aide to Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that 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.
Investigators have been interested for months in Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials during the presidential transition. The meetings included a session with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak.
The White House has noted that transition teams typically meet with foreign officials, and that Kushner at the time was serving as a liaison to foreign governments and officials. He reportedly met with dozens of officials from a number of countries.
At Kislyak’s request, Kushner also met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the head of the state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank. The bank is wholly owned by the Russian state and is intertwined with Russian intelligence.
FBI and congressional investigators are scrutinizing whether Kushner may have met with Gorkov to help establish a direct line to Putin, or for reasons not cited by the White House.