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Trump urges GOP to fight for him

President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE delivered a pointed message Monday to Republicans beginning to break from their White House ally amid Democrats’ escalating impeachment investigation: Fight harder for me.

“Republicans have to get tougher and fight,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House. “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.”

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Trump has been growing more and more irritated by criticism from members of his own party on a trio of foreign policy issues: Democrats’ impeachment probe focused on Ukraine, his decision to pull troops out of Syria and his announcement that the next Group of Seven conference would be held at his Doral golf resort in Florida.

On the first two, Trump has remained defiant. On the third, the president on Saturday made the rare move of reversing course in response to outcry — both public and private — from some of the same Republicans who have typically defended him.

The GOP opposition came from multiple fronts.

On Fox News, the president’s go-to news outlet, legal analysts, including former Judge Andrew NapolitanoAndrew Peter NapolitanoFox's Napolitano says grand jury erred in Taylor case: 'I would have indicted all three of them' Fox's Napolitano: Supreme Court confirmation hearings will be 'World War III of political battles' Fox's Napolitano: 2000 election will look like 'child's play' compared to 2020 legal battles MORE, charged the president with flagrant violations of the constitutional ban on accepting foreign gifts.

Those criticisms were echoed by a handful of centrist Republicans who voiced public concerns that the Doral decision, if not illegal, created unflattering perceptions that the president was using the office to boost his business interests.

Privately, a group of moderate Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonUpton censured for vote to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from Education Committee Is the 'civil war' in the Republican Party really over? Michigan GOP committee deadlocks on resolution to censure Meijer over impeachment vote MORE (Mich.) and Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingTop GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee Republican Garbarino wins election to replace retiring Rep. Pete King Katko announces bid to serve as top Republican on Homeland Security panel MORE (N.Y.), huddled with Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE at Camp David over the weekend, warning Trump’s acting chief of staff of the poor optics and potential political backlash of hosting the meeting at the Trump resort.

Other GOP lawmakers texted and called White House officials to object to the move, sources said.

“A bunch of us weighed in who otherwise are normally supportive. I think it hit their attention because it wasn’t the typical anti-Trump crowd,” said one moderate House Republican who reached out to express concerns to the White House.

“Even if there was no profiting, the appearance of impropriety caused major heartburn,” the GOP lawmaker added. “Many of us viewed it as an unforced error even though I believe Trump when he says he was trying to limit costs and go to a secure location.”

The pushback arrives as Trump has become increasingly isolated on a handful of issues churning headlines this month — and creating new headaches for the president and his allies on Capitol Hill.

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Last week, after Trump pulled U.S. troops from northern Syria, House lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on a resolution rebuking the decision. The absence of U.S. forces had led to an immediate invasion by Turkish troops that threatened to obliterate the Kurdish rebels who have fought against ISIS on behalf of the United States for years. Almost 130 Republicans voted with Democrats to condemn the move — joining prominent Senate critics like Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Trump rules out starting a new party: 'Fake news' Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyEx-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress Five takeaways from CPAC 2021 Trump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner MORE (R-Utah) — and many are still pressing Trump to reverse the decision.

The Kurds “stood with us in the fight against ISIS; they took 10,000 deaths, at least,” Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerNew super PAC aims to support lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict Trump Trump tears into Biden, GOP critics in first post-presidency speech Kinzinger: GOP 'certainly not united' on 'vision for the future' MORE (R-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran, told CNN on Monday. He also dressed down Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Female generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command MORE about the Syria pullout in a closed-door GOP meeting last week.

“To leave just so quickly without a negotiated solution, it obviously was disheartening to a lot of us,” he said.

On Ukraine, the president has also seen a recent erosion of GOP support, fueled by Mulvaney’s remarks Thursday — since retracted — indicating that Trump had sought a quid pro quo leveraging U.S. military aid to Ukraine in return for political favors. Those dealings have become the focus of the Democrats’ month-old impeachment inquiry into the president, and several Republicans haven’t ruled out the possibility that they’d vote for impeachment articles, if the process evolves that far.

Both Kinzinger and Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyA party of ideas, not a cult of personality Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting Lawmakers express concern about lack of young people in federal workforce MORE (R-Fla.), who represents a deeply conservative district which Trump carried by 20 points in 2016, are now leaving open the possibility of joining the Democrats’ impeachment push. A third Republican, a moderate, also told The Hill he can’t rule out backing impeachment until he sees all the evidence of the Ukraine probe.

“Whatever might have been gray and unclear before is certainly quite clear right now that the actions were related to getting … Ukraine to do some of these things,” Rooney, a former ambassador under former President George W. Bush, told CNN over the weekend.

Rooney is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the three panels leading the’ impeachment inquiry. As part of that effort, the committees have deposed a series of witnesses — both inside and outside the administration — with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukrainian leaders.

Most Republicans participating in those depositions have remained fiercely faithful to Trump, saying the president has done nothing wrong and accusing Democrats of conducting a counterfeit impeachment process that denies the public a window into the proceedings.

In fact, Trump’s House Freedom Caucus allies on Monday night forced a vote on a resolution to censure Democrats’ point person on impeachment, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBiden holds off punishing Saudi crown prince, despite US intel Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Democrats demand Saudi accountability over Khashoggi killing MORE (D-Calif.).

“This is about impeaching the president of the United States 13 months before an election because they’re afraid that he’s going to win in 2020,” former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display MORE (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told Fox on Monday. “That’s what this is about.”

Despite the fact that GOP leaders are rallying behind Trump, at Monday’s Cabinet meeting the president — famous for demanding loyalty — decried what he views as treachery within the GOP ranks as the impeachment drum grows louder. Trump lamented that Democrats don’t have the same problem, even though they’ve fought high-profile battles over impeachment and returning Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) to the Speaker’s office during the past 12 months.

“The two things they have: They’re vicious and they stick together,” Trump said of Democrats. “They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don’t have people like that.”

Brett Samuels contributed.