Trump says Gowdy can't join his legal team 'for a couple months'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE on Thursday said former Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE (R-S.C.) can't to join his outside legal team for a "couple months" because of lobbying rules one day after it was announced that Gowdy would serve as his counsel.

"Trey Gowdy is a terrific guy," Trump told reporters outside the White House as he departed for a campaign rally.

"I think there's a problem with — he can't start for another couple months because of lobbying rules and regulations," he added. "So you'll have to ask about that. I just heard that Trey Gowdy can't start til some time after January because of the lobbying rules and regulations. So I don't know. We'll have to see."

Trump's lead personal attorney, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowOn The Money: Stocks tumble on Trump China trade remarks | Trump says deal could come after 2020 | Why Wall Street freaked | Trump loses appeal over Deutsche Bank subpoena Appeals court rules Deutsche Bank must turn over Trump financial records to House Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe MORE, said Wednesday night that Gowdy would serve as counsel to the president in response to the House's impeachment inquiry.

Sekulow did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday seeking clarification on Gowdy's status. 

Gowdy is a career prosecutor who served four terms in Congress. He retired in January at the conclusion of his final term.

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Gowdy’s ability to defend the president against subpoena requests would be severely hampered if he’s unable to start in an official capacity until January, though he could make appearances defending Trump on television.

The House formally launched its impeachment inquiry into Trump late last month.

Top Democrats have indicated they hope to move swiftly by keeping a narrow focus on allegations that Trump abused his office by urging the leader of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE.

Democratic committee leaders have in recent days issued subpoenas demanding records from the White House, Vice President Pence, the Office of Management and Budget, Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryNew Energy secretary cancels Paris trip amid mass strikes against Macron proposal Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in Overnight Energy: Critics call EPA air guidance 'an industry dream' | New Energy secretary says Trump wants to boost coal | EPA looks to speed approval of disputed industry pollution permits MORE, the Pentagon and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr Trump denies report that he still uses personal cell phone for calls Giuliani draws attention with latest trip to Ukraine MORE as part of the investigation.

Gowdy previously served as the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and led the House Select Committee on Benghazi. In those roles, he insisted that the Obama administration comply with congressional oversight authority.