Senate to decide whether to dismiss impeachment articles or hold trial for DHS Sec. Mayorkas

 April 17, 2024

The Republican-led House formally voted to impeach Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas a few months ago but only just this week officially transferred the articles of impeachment over to the Democrat-led Senate.

It is now up to the senators to decide whether to fulfill their constitutional duty to hold an impeachment trial or shirk that responsibility by immediately dismissing or setting aside the charges, according to the Associated Press.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with seemingly all of his Democratic colleagues, appear intent on avoiding holding a trial while most Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are adamant that the impeachment proceedings must take place.

Democrats will likely move to immediately dismiss impeachment articles

"Today, the trial will commence, and we will be in our seats as jurors for the third time in four years," Sen. Schumer said Wednesday in a floor speech, according to ABC News. "But this time, senators will provide as jurors in the least legitimate, least substantive, and most politicized impeachment trial ever in the history of the United States."

"For the sake of the Senate's integrity and to protect impeachment for those rare cases we truly need it, senators should dismiss today's charges," he continued.

"When we convene in trial today, to accommodate the wishes of our Republican Senate colleagues, I will seek an agreement for a period of debate time that would allow Republicans to offer a vote on trial resolutions, allow for Republicans to offer points of order, and then move to dismiss," Schumer added.

Republicans are demanding a full trial

The push by Senate Democrats for an immediate dismissal before the trial of the impeachment articles against Sec. Mayorkas has not sat well with Senate Republicans and their insistent demand for accountability for the secretary over his egregious failure to fully enforce the southern border and existing laws against illegal immigration.

"This is raw gut politics," Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said of talk of an immediate dismissal during a Tuesday press conference, per ABC News. "What Senator Schumer is going to do tomorrow -- it is fatuous, it is fraudulent and it is an insult to the Senate. It is a disservice to every American citizen who believes in the rule of law."

Sen. McConnell also loudly voiced his opposition to the dismissal talk and said, "I intend to give these charges my full and undivided attention. Of course, that would require that senators actually get the opportunity to hold a trial. And this is exactly what history and precedent dictates. Never before has the Senate agreed to a motion to table articles of impeachment."

He added, "I'll strenuously oppose the effort to table the articles of impeachment and avoid looking at the Biden administration border crisis squarely in the face."

Possible compromise could be a trial by special committee

USA Today reported that after formally impeaching Sec. Mayorkas in February on two counts -- his "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law" and his "breach of public trust" -- Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) finally signed off on the articles on Monday and authorized House Impeachment Managers to transfer those articles to the Senate on Tuesday, where they were read aloud on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

Given that Democrats hold the bare majority in the Senate, which is all that is necessary to dismiss or table the impeachment matter, it is possible that there won't actually be a full-fledged trial, though that would require all Democrats to vote together, which isn't a certainty, and Republicans will likely employ a host of procedural moves to make immediate dismissal as difficult as possible.

"If you're so confident that the charges against Secretary Mayorkas are baseless, then why not hold a trial?" Sen. Mike Lee, (R-UT) said last week in a floor speech. "This is exactly what it looks like when someone is aware that there is a problem and wants to sweep the problem under the rug ... You can't hide this."

ABC News noted the potential for a compromise -- one that Lee signaled would be "acceptable" in his view -- which is to shift the impeachment articles to a special investigative committee, as the Senate is permitted to do for officials other than a sitting president, for a smaller trial in a more confined setting.

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