Trump Lawyer Asserts President’s Right to Keep Tax Returns Private – The New York Times

“This request is about policy, not politics,” Mr. Neal said at the time. “My preparations were made on my own track and timeline, entirely independent of other activities in Congress and the administration.”

Daniel Rubin, a spokesman for Mr. Neal, declined to comment on Friday’s letter.

Mr. Consovoy said that Mr. Neal’s stated justification only thinly veiled what Democrats were really after: political gain. They have demanded for years that Mr. Trump release his tax returns, Mr. Consovoy argued, and they promised to use the House majority to find out whether the president had undertaken financial fraud.

“Once this Pandora’s box is opened, the ensuing tit for tat will do lasting damage to our nation,” Mr. Consovoy wrote.

Though he was defending Mr. Trump’s privacy rights as a taxpayer, his arguments also closely mirrored those used by Republicans in Congress who have argued against making the request.

“If Chairman Neal genuinely wants to review how the I.R.S. audits presidents, why is he seeking tax returns and return information covering the four years before President Trump took office?” Mr. Consovoy asked. “Why is he not requesting information about the audits of previous presidents?”

Mr. Consovoy’s argument bears similarity to one made by other Trump lawyers throughout the course of the obstruction of justice investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. In that case, the president’s lawyers repeatedly argued that he did not lose his rights as a citizen by dint of being the commander in chief. Those included his rights to free speech, his lawyers argued, a point echoed in the letter sent on Friday.

Mr. Grewal said he thought Mr. Consovoy raised a valid objection about the legitimacy of Mr. Neal’s investigation, but cautioned that his letter was “part of public relations and advocacy, as opposed to any kind of official action” that would affect the case.


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