Donald Trump has assembled his new legal team to fight House Democrats’ demand for six-years worth of the president’s elusive tax returns. The formal demand made by Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, earlier this week set up what is likely to be a vicious court battle between Team Trump and his Democratic antagonists on Capitol Hill.
Trump retained the law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC to represent him with regard to congressional requests for his tax returns. “Our firm welcomes the opportunity to represent President Trump in his capacity as a taxpayer,” one of Trump’s personal attorneys, William Consovoy, who is also representing the president in a separate emoluments case, said in a statement on Friday. “The requests for his private tax information are not consistent with governing law, do not advance any proper legislative purpose, and threaten to interfere with the ordinary conduct of audits. We are confident that this misguided attempt to politicize the administration of the tax laws will not succeed.”
Neal has also asked for returns for the president’s trust and seven Trump business entities. He has contended Congress has the authority to review the president’s returns under existing tax law.
In a brief interview with The Daily Beast on Friday afternoon, Jay Sekulow, a Trump lawyer who defended him during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, said he will be “overseeing” this and other “related matters” but that Consovoy will be taking the lead. Sekulow also said that it was unclear at this time what role the White House Counsel’s office will play in this going forward, given that the congressional request includes years during which Trump was already in office.
Consovoy on Friday also wrote a letter to Treasury Department General Counsel Brent McIntosh, questioning “why Chairman Neal cannot legally request—and the IRS cannot legally divulge—this information” regarding the president or his business empire.
The IRS is a bureau of the Treasury Department, which is headed by Trump friend Steve Mnuchin, who is also cc’d on Consovoy’s four-page letter, which was reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Trump has for years maintained that he’s never voluntarily given up his tax returns because he is allegedly under audit by the IRS. However, no law prohibits him from releasing the long-sought-after tax returns, even if there’s an audit.
When asked in the Oval Office on Thursday if he will release his tax returns—as he had promised to do during the 2016 presidential campaign but then never did—President Trump told reporters that lawmakers will “speak to my lawyers; they’ll speak to the attorney general.” On Friday, the president told reporters at the White House, “Hey, I’m under audit,” adding that the law is “100 percent on my side.”