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

Former Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Green says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely Trump golfs with Graham ahead of impeachment trial MORE (R-S.C.) is no longer a contributor for Fox News amid discussions on him joining President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet 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 SekulowTrump's team rests, calls for quick end to trial Trump lawyers to wrap up impeachment defense What to watch for on Day 7 of the Trump impeachment trial 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 ClintonHill.TV's Krystal Ball: Failure to embrace Sanders as nominee would 'destroy' Democratic Party Clinton says she feels the 'urge' to defeat Trump in 2020 Can Democrats flip the Texas House? Today's result will provide a clue 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 PelosiDemocrats offer mixed reactions to Trump's Mideast peace plan James Taylor to perform at awards ceremony for Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week Trump offers two-state peace plan for Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid skepticism 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 BidenPerry delegation talking points stressed pushing Ukraine to deal with 'corruption' GOP senator airs anti-Biden ad in Iowa amid impeachment trial Biden photobombs live national news broadcast at one of his rallies 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