Trey Gowdy out at Fox News amid talks to join Trump defense team

Former Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGowdy remembers political opponent, good friend Elijah Cummings Hill editor-in-chief: 'Hard to imagine' House leadership without Cummings Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 MORE (R-S.C.) is no longer a contributor for Fox News amid discussions on him joining President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE's legal team battling House Democrats in their impeachment inquiry.

"Trey Gowdy has been terminated and is no longer a contributor," a Fox News spokesperson confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday.

Reports began to surface on Tuesday afternoon that Gowdy, a former prosecutor in South Carolina, was in discussions to join the president's impeachment defense team.

"We are in discussion with Trey about joining our team," Trump attorney Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump's impeachment jeopardy deepens Mulvaney admission deals blow to White House impeachment defense On The Money: Trump announces limited trade deal with China | Appeals court rules against Trump over financial records | Trump expands authority to sanction Turkey MORE confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday, adding that no final decisions have been made.

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Fox News reported during the network's "Outnumbered" program Wednesday that Trump has hired Gowdy as outside counsel. The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

The 55-year-old is a former chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and led the House Benghazi Committee, where he grilled former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton trolls Trump with mock letter from JFK to Khrushchev Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision MORE and other Obama administration officials in October 2015 over what occurred in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

The news comes as the White House escalated its battle with congressional Democrats on Tuesday evening, with the White House saying that the administration "cannot participate" in what it called a "partisan and unconstitutional" impeachment inquiry.

"President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process," White House counsel Pat Cipollone stated in a letter sent to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump lashes out at Pelosi as she visits Jordan to discuss Syria Thomas D'Alesandro III, brother of Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90 MORE (D-Calif.).

"Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances." 

Pelosi announced in late September that the House would formally launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump, alleging he abused his office by urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Graham: 'Stupid' for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden Romney: Republicans don't criticize Trump because they fear it will help Warren MORE.

Trump has focused on Biden's efforts as vice president to push for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had drawn the ire of the U.S. government and its allies in the West. Biden has defended his actions.

Gowdy was hired as a Fox News contributor in January 2019. 
 
– Brett Samuels contributed reporting