Trump urges GOP to defend him more strongly on impeachment

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE on Monday urged Republicans to offer him a tougher defense on impeachment amid a few signs of GOP discontent with his administration.

At a Cabinet meeting, Trump praised Democratic unity while criticizing his own party for not sticking together. 

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"The two things they have: They’re vicious and they stick together," he said of Democrats. "They don’t have Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyProgressive Democrats ramp up attacks on private equity Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne Ocasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field MORE in their midst. They don’t have people like that."

Trump said Republicans have to "get tougher and fight" to counteract Democrats pursuing an impeachment inquiry.

"I watched a couple of people on television today. They were talking about what a phony deal it is. What a phony investigation it is," Trump said during the Cabinet meeting, dismissing allegations that he's abused his office.

"And Republicans have to get tougher and fight," he continued. "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 coming up, where we’re doing very well."

Asked later to elaborate on his desire to see Republicans get tougher, Trump said he felt Democrats were "vicious."

"I think the Democrats fight dirty. I think the Democrat are lousy politicians with lousy policy," he said. 

Trump added that so-called "Never Trump" Republicans "might be worse than the Democrats."

"The good news is they're dying off fast," he said.

Republicans have largely defended Trump against the impeachment inquiry, but many have ripped him over the last two weeks for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

The House in a broad, bipartisan vote last week rebuked Trump for the decision, which led to a Turkish invasion against Kurdish forces that had been allied with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism. Only 60 Republicans voted against it. 

Republicans also voiced discontent with Trump's decision to announce his Doral, Fla., resort would host the Group of Seven leaders meeting next year, a move that Democrats said could enrich the president. Trump, in a surprise move, reversed that decision on Saturday. Observers suggested the GOP criticism played a role in the change.

None of this makes GOP support for Democrats on impeachment remotely likely, but Trump can't afford to have a number of fights with his own party as he looks to them for help in the impeachment battle.

A few GOP lawmakers have withheld judgment and refused to say whether they believe Trump committed an impeachable offense.

Among them are Utah Senator Romney and Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyBipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members House Democrat: Taylor's impeachment testimony made 'very clear' there was a quid pro quo New bipartisan Senate climate caucus aims to take 'politics' out of the topic MORE (R-Fla.), the latter of which announced over the weekend he would retire at the end of his term.

Romney has been among the most outspoken critics of Trump from within the GOP, calling the president's calls for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens "appalling."

Democrats are pursuing allegations that Trump abused his office by pressuring a foreign government to investigate his domestic political rival. They are specifically focused on a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump urged Zelensky to "look into" Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE.

White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyLive coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings Impeachment witness: Ukraine 'gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something' Impeachment guide: The 9 witnesses testifying this week MORE last week said aid for Ukraine was not tied to the Bidens, but to an investigation of Democrats involved in the 2016 election. He later walked those remarks back.

Trump was asked Monday if he felt it was a foregone conclusion that Democrats will impeach him, and seemed to suggest he thought that might be the case.

"I think they want to," he said. "Any Democrat wants to because they're not gong to beat me in the election. So of course they want to impeach."

Trump called the investigation into him "illegitimate."

"It cannot be the way our founders, our great founders, meant this to be," he said.