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Trump Says Republicans Need To 'Get Tougher And Fight' On Impeachment

"Republicans ... have to get tougher and fight because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election," President Trump said at a meeting of his Cabinet on Monday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Trump is chastising Republicans for not sufficiently having his back as he tries to weather an impeachment inquiry from Democrats.

"Republicans have to get tougher and fight," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting on Monday. "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."

And while the president rarely has words of praise for Democrats, he did laud them for being "vicious" and "stick[ing] together" when it comes to impeachment and other matters. And he lambasted one of his top GOP foes, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, saying they "don't have people like that" on their side.

The 2012 GOP presidential nominee is one of the few Republican senators to admit they are open to voting to remove Trump from office. Even if the House impeaches Trump, a supermajority of the Senate's 100 members would be needed to remove him — a tough task given Republicans control 53 seats.

In an interview Sunday on Axios on HBO, Romney said that other senators do have concerns about Trump and his conduct regarding Ukraine, including asking President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Trump's potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. However, they're unwilling to come forward and criticize Trump because they fear the political repercussions.

"There's no upside in going on out and attacking the leader of your party, 'cause that's just gonna let someone come in and primary you on the right. So people want to hang on to their job," Romney said.

Even a loyal Trump ally, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, said he wouldn't rule out voting against Trump in an impeachment trial if there is more evidence of wrongdoing to emerge.

"Sure, I mean show me something that is a crime," Graham also told Axios. "If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing."

Graham broke with Trump last week over his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria — which made way for Turkey's invasion of the country that has put Kurdish allies in grave danger. That's another decision that led many Republican lawmakers to question the president.

Trump also defended the initial choice of hosting next year's G-7 summit at his Doral resort outside Miami, though he later withdrew that decision late Saturday amid heavy criticism of self-dealing. Though Trump blamed Democrats and the media for stoking the controversy, there was, in fact, plenty of private pushback from Republicans.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday on ABC's This Week that picking Doral was an "unforced error" and that Trump had "no choice" but to reverse course.

"It shouldn't have been done in the first place and it's a good move to get out of it and get that out of the papers and off the news," Christie said.

Christie also hinted that many lawmakers may be growing exasperated with having to constantly defend Trump, and that they could do better at outreach, telling ABC that he told Trump he needs "to be in friend-making mode."

In a sign the White House is working to shore up GOP unity, it held two days of meetings with Republican House members over the weekend at Camp David.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jessica Taylor is a political reporter with NPR based in Washington, DC, covering elections and breaking news out of the White House and Congress. Her reporting can be heard and seen on a variety of NPR platforms, from on air to online. For more than a decade, she has reported on and analyzed House and Senate elections and is a contributing author to the 2020 edition of The Almanac of American Politics and is a senior contributor to The Cook Political Report.