Trump privately asked McConnell to prioritize confirmation of IRS counsel over attorney general – and now we know why

News & Politics

The New York Times is out with another bombshell report, this time describing how – and why – President Donald Trump privately asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to make his top priority the confirmation of a new IRS Chief Counsel, even over confirming a new Attorney General.


It was February, one month after the new Democratic-majority House of Representatives had been sworn in. This is a very aggressive goal-oriented group of progressive lawmakers, and they had promised to get a copy of Trump's tax returns.

The Times' Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos report that "the request by Mr. Trump, made to Mr. McConnell on Feb. 5," to prioritize the confirmation of the IRS Chief Counsel, "raised questions about whether the president had other motivations," for pushing to get his nominee confirmed.

"For months, the president has seethed over vows by congressional Democrats that they would move to obtain his tax returns from the I.R.S. And this week, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, formally asked the I.R.S. for six years of the returns, using an obscure provision in the tax code to do so."

The Times also notes that "Mr. Trump and his team have been warily anticipating the probing demands of House investigators since Democrats won control in November. The message to Mr. McConnell came around the time that Mr. Trump, eyeing a torrent of new House investigations led by Democrats, told reporters that he was unfairly under fire."

The IRS Chief Counsel presumably would be able to provide the Secretary of the Treasury with "reasons" to not allow Congress to obtain Trump's tax returns.

Also of great concern is that the Senate did, in fact, confirm Michael Desmond, a tax lawyer from Santa Barbara, California, as IRS Chief Counsel, despite, as the Times notes, Desmond "had briefly advised the Trump Organization on tax issues before Mr. Trump took office."

There's more.

"In private practice, Mr. Desmond worked for a time alongside William Nelson and Sheri Dillon, who currently serve as tax counsels to the Trump Organization."

It's almost as if President Trump installed William Barr at the DOJ to protect him from the Mueller investigation and installed Michael Desmond at the IRS to protect him from Democrats trying to obtain his tax returns.

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