White House legal team fights inquiries into Trump finances, tax returns

Atty tells Treasury they can turn down requests

By Jim Acosta, Pamela Brown and Lauren Fox, CNN
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(CNN) - Lawyers for President Donald Trump are fighting back on multiple fronts Monday as Democratic-led congressional investigations into Trump continue their efforts to formally request information on the President's personal finances.

Following the House Ways and Means committee's effort to formally request Trump's tax returns -- a release of information the President has fought since the early days of the 2016 campaign -- Trump's attorney told the US Treasury they can turn down that inquiry from the committee. In a letter to the Department of Treasury's general counsel, Trump's attorney William Consovoy argues the agency is able to deny a request for his tax information.

In the tax day letter, Consovoy says House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal is "wrong" to say that none of Trump's legal objections can be used to deny the request.

It's the second time the lawyers have written to General Counsel Brent McIntosh about the request.

"We have once again reiterated our objections to the unconstitutional demand for the President's tax returns," said Jay Sekulow, counsel to the President.

The letter comes days after Neal set a new deadline for the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig to comply with the panel's request for documents.

"I expect a reply from the IRS by 5:00 p.m. on April 23, 2019. Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request," Neal wrote over the weekend.

Trump's attorneys also argued In a separate letter obtained by CNN that an accounting firm that once prepared several years' worth of the President's financial statements should not comply with a subpoena the House Oversight Committee says it will issue,

In the letter, Trump's lawyers, Consovoy and Stefan Passantino, argue that Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings has overstepped his congressional authority, that his reasons for wanting the information are not valid and that they will pursue legal action if Mazars, the accounting firm, plans to comply with Cummings' expected subpoena.

"We ask that Mazars provide us with at least 10-days notice so that we may take appropriate legal steps to protect our clients' rights," they wrote in the letter to Mazars.

Interestingly, they argue that no one can have personal tax information and that Mazars is blocked from releasing that information even under a subpoena order. They then cite 6103 -- the statute that says only three people House Ways and Means Chair, the Senate Finance Chair and the chief of the Joint Committee on Taxation could ask for that type of information. That is the mechanism that Neal is using to request Trump's returns from the IRS. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has not agreed to allow IRS to release the information until he consults with the Department of Justice.

Politico was first to report on the letter from Trump's lawyers to Mazars.

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to reflect that the lawyers involved in Monday's letters are President Donald Trump's personal lawyers.

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