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Trump urges GOP to 'get tougher and fight' impeachment inquiry

President Donald Trump at the White House on

President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday. Credit: EPA-EFE / Shutterstock / Michael Reynolds

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday called on Republican lawmakers to “get tougher and fight” the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry as he continued to take aim at one of the leaders of the probe, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, calling for his censure.

Trump, speaking to reporters for nearly 30 minutes at the top of a meeting with his cabinet, also defended his since-rescinded decision to host the G-7 summit at his South Florida golf resort, dismissing as “phony” a provision in the U.S. Constitution that bars the president from accepting payments from foreign governments or for earning income outside of his office.

The president also downplayed the role U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters played in reducing the footprint of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria, saying: “I’m the one who did the capturing. I’m the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits."

Trump’s cabinet meeting came as House Republicans were preparing to force a vote on a resolution to censure Schiff (D-Calif.) over his handling of the impeachment inquiry that has largely taken place behind closed-doors. Democrats eventually overturned the resolution in a 218-185 vote, but the move did offer House Republicans a symbolic show of support with Trump, who has been calling for Schiff to be investigated and removed from office.

“Republicans have to get tougher and fight,” Trump told reporters. “We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight.”

Trump’s calls for a more vigorous public defense came as a series of national polls show a majority of Americans support the impeachment inquiry that was launched last month after a U.S. intelligence whistleblower filed a complaint describing Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating his Democratic rivals.

The president argued that Democrats were “vicious” in uniting behind the impeachment inquiry and said, "They want to impeach and they want to do it as quick as possible.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday released a “fact sheet” laying out all the public evidence that has been collected to date about Trump’s request for President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter, ahead of the 2020 election.

The document, broken into three sections — the "shakedown," "the pressure campaign" and "the cover up,” — argues Trump “has betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security and betrayed the integrity of our elections for his own personal political gain.”

Trump, asked about his decision to no longer host the G-7 summit at his Doral resort after the site had been announced last Saturday, insisted he would not have violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause that bars the president from receiving gifts or money from a foreign government.

“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause,” Trump told reporters.

The remark sparked immediate pushback from Democrats and Constitutional law scholars, who pointed to the exact language in the Constitution.

"There are two Emoluments Clauses that he's violating and they are very much in the very real Constitution," the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted. The group is behind a series of lawsuits arguing that Trump is violating the clause by collecting money from foreign governments who book rooms at his hotels.

Trump argued that if allowed, he would have provided the rooms at his Doral resort for free, and he rejected concerns that regardless of the price to the U.S. government, the selection of the site would have amounted to free publicity for a resort that has experienced a dip in business since he took office.

“You don't think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than any human being that's ever lived,” Trump said.

The president also continued to standby his decision to withdraw and relocate nearly 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria, a move that has been met with bipartisan condemnation. Lawmakers have argued the withdrawal abandoned the Kurdish allies who helped fight and capture Islamic State militants and created an opening for Turkey to invade the region in a deadly offensive.

“Where is an agreement that said we have to stay in the Middle East for the rest of humanity, for the rest of civilization?” Trump said.

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