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

Former Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Conway spars with Wallace on whether White House will cooperate with impeachment inquiry after formal vote Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE (R-S.C.) is no longer a contributor for Fox News amid discussions on him joining President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day 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 SekulowMeadows says he's advocating for Trump to add Alan Dershowitz to impeachment defense team On The Money: Stocks tumble on Trump China trade remarks | Trump says deal could come after 2020 | Why Wall Street freaked | Trump loses appeal over Deutsche Bank subpoena Appeals court rules Deutsche Bank must turn over Trump financial records to House 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 ClintonBiden hires Clinton, O'Rourke alum as campaign's digital director Trump neck and neck with top 2020 Democrats in Wisconsin: poll Clinton tweets impeachment website, encourages voters to 'see the evidence for themselves' 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 PelosiVulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Photographer leaves Judiciary hearing after being accused of taking photos of member notes Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina 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 BidenSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Democrat representing Pennsylvania district Trump carried plans to vote to impeach  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