Trump Tells Republicans To Better Defend Him Against Impeachment While Criticizing Romney

President Donald Trump made it clear Monday that he wants Republicans to step up their defense of him against House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

The move by Trump to call on members of his own party to better come to his defense came amid several GOP lawmakers making comments that suggest they're open to the impeachment inquiry into the president.

"Republicans have to get tougher and fight," he said. "We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election, which is something where we're doing very well."

Trump, speaking to reporters at length in the White House during a meeting with cabinet officials, also praised Democrats, whom he said have done a better job at sticking together when it comes to their messaging.

"I think they're lousy politicians. But two things they have: They're vicious and they stick together," Trump said. "They don't have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don't have people like that. They stick together. You never see them break off."

He praised outgoing Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) for telling CBS' Face the Nation over the weekend that in recent private depositions with several State Department officials, he and his colleagues had yet to hear that Ukrainian officials believed there was a quid pro quo being offered.

But while Trump's top congressional allies continue to vehemently defend him against the "illegitimate" and "sham" impeachment probe, a growing number of Republicans across the country in recent weeks have not ruled out the inquiry and have refrained from throwing their full confidence behind the notion there was no wrongdoing by Trump in the Ukraine scandal.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has said he isn't ruling out Trump's potential ouster and that he's "waiting for the House to complete its analysis, to gather all the facts." The frequent Trump critic labeled the president's call for China to also investigate the Bidens as "against the law" and confirmed he runs a secret Twitter account to keep tabs on his critics and to anonymously interact on the social media platform.

republicans defend trump blasts romney
Then-President-elect Donald Trump calls out to the press as Mitt Romney leaves after their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016, in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty

In their criticism of Trump, some Republicans have cited acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's statements last week, where he acknowledged the U.S. was engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine for military aid in exchange for promises to investigate corruption, 2016 election hacking and Burisma, the energy company Biden's son, Hunter, sits on the board of.

"You don't hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). "Period."

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), one of a select number of lawmakers who have the ability to attend closed-door impeachment inquiry proceedings and who's announced he would not seek re-election next year, told reporters last week that Mulvaney "basically said it's a quid pro quo."

"It's not an etch-a-sketch," the former George W. Bush ambassador added. Rooney hinted that he could potentially be for impeachment.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who's been outspoken about his opposition to Trump withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, has suggested he's also leaving the door open when it comes to the impeachment inquiry but has not reached a final judgment.

"It's quite concerning, and I think we're going to get more information as we're seeing this happen rapidly," he told CNN.

Former GOP Ohio Governor John Kasich said he now supports Trump's impeachment but did not call for his removal from office by the Senate.

Three current Republican governors—Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan of Maryland and Phil Scott of Vermont—have said they back the impeachment inquiry.

It's plausible the House could vote to impeach Trump before the year's end, as lawmakers have suggested 2020 would be too late and viewed by too many as trying to influence an upcoming presidential election. And Trump said Monday that he expects House Democrats to successfully impeach him.

"I think they want to. Any Democrat wants to," he said. "Of course they want to impeach me."