Key Republican in Trump's campaign had a secret effort to remove him from the ballot in 2016: Rick Gates
President Donald Trump (MSNBC)

In another case of "strange bedfellows," a Republican lawyer working on President Donald Trump's campaign once worked secretly to remove him from the ballot in 2016.

BusinessInsider reported that Katie Walsh, a former chief of staff for Reince Priebus when he was at the RNC, worked behind the scenes to get Trump off the ballot. Since then, she's served in the White House and has become one "of Trump's most powerful outside operators," reported the site.

She was outed by Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates, who said that Walsh and the Republican National Committee were part of "multiple" talks about getting rid of Trump in 2016.

After Fox News Host Tucker Carlson went after Walsh and her husband Mike Shields, her lawyer claimed that the idea she would be working to undermine Trump was false.

"The statements with respect to some effort to dislodge the president from the ballot with respect to Ms. Walsh are demonstrably false and people who repeat those false statements run the risk of significant damages," Walsh's attorney said. "The effort to destroy her business will no longer be countenanced. Action will be taken."

At least ten GOP insiders confirmed to BI about Walsh's efforts, the report said.

"A Trump steamrolled his competition — and with old-guard Republicans increasingly alarmed that the unpredictable, polarizing, gaffe-prone reality-TV host might tank them at the polls — Walsh began talking up the idea of saving the party by denying him the nomination," Gates told BI.

Still, it's been a topic of conversation among Trump's closest advisers whether it's true or whether the couple is just trying to profit off of their access to the president.

While the idea of an effort to get rid of Trump has been reported in tell-all books and interviews, Walsh has never been linked as the source of the effort.

"A tell-all book from one of Walsh's closest friends published last week purports to reveal new details about the Republican National Committee considering the removal of Trump from the ballot after the 'Access Hollywood' tape came out," reported BI.

Gates has remained largely quiet after he was arrested in 2017 for his involvement with Paul Manafort's company. Manafort was found guilty last year, but is out of jail because of the virus.

"Republicans familiar with Walsh's and the RNC's discussions about Trump also said that Walsh, Shields, and Priebus had worked to protect Trump as the nominee," the report said. It was proof, they claimed, that it wasn't about being "Never Trumpers" but about protecting the party from long-term damage. It obviously didn't work as the Republican Party lost dozens of seats in Congress in 2018 and flipped statehouses to Democrats.

"There was absolutely a movement by Reince and the RNC to remove Trump on several occasions during the 2016 campaign," said Gates, who is working on his own tell-all book to be out in October.

While it may have just been a trial balloon at first, it became a heavy push after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out.

"Here's a guy who came to the process as an outsider — at every turn they wanted to get rid of him," said Gates. Within hours, big Republican donors were ready to replace Trump with Vice President Mike Pence.

Sens. John Thune (R-NC) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) also were advocating to get rid of Trump publicly. They're now in reelection bids where they aren't doing well. Despite advocating against Trump, the president is helping them with hefty endorsements.

Former Trump aide Madeleine Westerhout published her book on Aug. 11, addressing the failed effort, but said that it was preparation for if Trump dropped out after the "Access Hollywood" tape.

But after she was questioned about it, Westerhout started changing her story.

"After Insider contacted Walsh, she directed Insider to speak with Westerhout. In an initial statement via text, Westerhout backed away from the account in her book and said the RNC never looked at removing Trump. Westerhout also said Priebus asked the party's lawyers to review what to do if Trump resigned as the nominee," said the report.

Read the full report at Business Insider.