Apr 4, 2019 - Politics & Policy

NYT: Trump wanted McConnell to prioritize his IRS chief counsel pick

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in early February to make the confirmation vote of Michael Desmond, his nominee for chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, a top legislative priority, according to a New York Times report on Thursday.

Details: The revelation came a day after House Democrats formally asked the IRS to release 6 years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. Per the Times, White House aides had long insisted that Desmond, whose nomination was confirmed on Feb. 27, was a top priority following the passage of the 2017 tax bill — even greater a consideration than that of William Barr for attorney general. Barr was confirmed 2 weeks prior.

Trump’s request in February "raised questions about whether the president had other motivations," per the Times.

What they're saying: The news outlet said Hogan Gidley, a White House deputy press secretary, declined to give concrete details about the conversation between Trump and McConnell.

  • He told the Times: "Democrats have obstructed and delayed a record number of President Trump’s well-qualified nominees, so it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that he regularly communicates with Majority Leader McConnell about how to increase confirmations in the face of Democrats’ ridiculous behavior."
  • David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, declined to comment about the conversation.
  • Citing a source familiar with what took place, the Times reports: "Mr. Trump told Mr. McConnell that Mr. Desmond was growing frustrated with the holdup and was contemplating withdrawing from the process."
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