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Trump urges GOP to defend him more strongly on impeachment

President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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 RomneySunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump 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 RooneyGrowing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Lawmakers express concern about lack of young people in federal workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Today: Vaccine distribution starts, Electoral College meets. 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 BidenDC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Joe Biden might bring 'unity' – to the Middle East Biden shouldn't let defeating cancer take a backseat to COVID MORE.

White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump campaign had paid .7M to organizers of rally ahead of Capitol riot: report Consumer bureau director resigns after Biden's inauguration FDA chief says he was 'disgusted' by Capitol riots, considered resigning 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.