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

Former Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: As states loosen social distancing restrictions, lawmakers address dwindling state budgets John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for another week fighting the coronavirus, seek to curb fallout MORE (R-S.C.) is no longer a contributor for Fox News amid discussions on him joining President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 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 SekulowAppeals court rejects Trump effort to throw out emoluments case Supreme Court divided over fight for Trump's financial records   Meadows joins White House in crisis mode 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 ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff 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 PelosiBottom line This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Women suffering steeper job losses in COVID-19 economy 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 BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel 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