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

President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE on Thursday said former Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy 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 SekulowJan. 6 panel releases Hannity texts, asks for cooperation Jan. 6 panel to seek Hannity's cooperation: report GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 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 BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country 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 PerryTrump's relocation of the Bureau of Land Management was part of a familiar Republican playbook What we've learned from the Meadows documents Trump war with GOP seeps into midterms MORE, the Pentagon and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOver 3,000 of Giuliani's communications released to prosecutors following FBI seizure National Archives transfers contested presidential documents to Jan. 6 committee Rhode Island school revokes honorary degrees for Giuliani, Flynn 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.