Mayorkas impeachment proceedings pushed to next week

ByLauren Peller ABCNews logo
Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Speaker Mike Johnson's office said Tuesday that it will delay the transmission of two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas -- pushing the process' start until next week.

Johnson had said he would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday, which would immediately trigger the Senate's next moves on Thursday. A full-scale trial on the Senate floor is not likely, according to senators and leadership aides -- despite what many House Republicans want.

"To ensure the Senate has adequate time to perform its constitutional duty, the House will transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate next week," Taylor Haulsee, a spokesman for Johnson, said in a statement. "There is no reason whatsoever for the Senate to abdicate its responsibility to hold an impeachment trial."

The House voted to impeach Mayorkas on Feb. 13 by a vote of 214-213 over what Republicans claimed was his failure to enforce border laws amid a "crisis" of high illegal immigration, allegations the secretary denied as "baseless."

DHS has criticized the impeachment efforts.

"Without a shred of evidence or legitimate Constitutional grounds, and despite bipartisan opposition, House Republicans have falsely smeared a dedicated public servant who has spent more than 20 years enforcing our laws and serving our country," DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said. "Secretary Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security will continue working every day to keep Americans safe."

Delaying the transmission of Mayorkas' impeachment articles could potentially help Senate Republicans avoid an attendance issue if debate over the impeachment extends into Thursday evening. Senate Republicans will want to be present in full force to vote against dismissing the trial in the event that a single Democrat defects and decides to vote to advance one.

Democrats control 51 seats in the Senate, so if they stick together, they can dismiss a trial without any GOP support if they so choose.

Congressional reaction

After Johnson announced he would delay transmission of the articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Senate stands ready to receive the articles whenever Johnson chooses to send them along.

"We're ready to go whenever they are," Schumer said. "We are sticking with our plan, we are going to move this as expeditiously as possible."

Schumer has remained tight-lipped about how exactly the Senate will proceed once the articles do arrive on the Senate floor, and he has not given a definitive answer when asked about whether the Senate will motion to dismiss or to table the impeachment proceedings.

"We're going to try to resolve this issue as quickly as possible," Schumer said when asked about the path forward on impeachment Tuesday afternoon, suggesting he'll take steps to avoid a full trial in the Senate. "Impeachment should never be used to settle policy disagreements."

The Senate cannot act on the articles until the House sends them over. Though Schumer hasn't said explicitly what the Senate will do once the articles arrive, multiple Senate Democrats say they expect there to be a vote to table or dismiss the trial.

"We want to move on," Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said when asked if he expected there to be a motion to dismiss. "Our point of view is that policy disputes are legitimate to be debated, but impeachment is not the way to resolve it."

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said he wasn't clear on the exact procedural path that senators might take, but when asked about whether he expected the trial to be dismissed he responded, "I do. I do."

If Senate Democrats stick together and vote to dismiss or table the trial, there's nothing Republicans can do to block the effort. But there's not a total guarantee that all Democrats would support a motion to dismiss.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has been non-committal about supporting an effort to table or dismiss.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, meanwhile, has signaled potential openness to dismissing a trial.

"I believe that a high crime or misdemeanor has not been alleged. So does that mean a summary judgement? Does that me a motion to table? I'm not sure where I express that," Romney said.

It is possible other moderate Republicans could share Romney's view and consider voting with Democrats to dismiss the trial.

If Senate Democrats do try to dismiss or table the trial, expect major blowback from Senate Republicans.

"I think it's clear that this administration President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have presided over the worst border crisis in American history," Republican Whip John Thune, who is running to become the party leader in the fall, said. "This is an absolute debacle at the southern border, it is a national security crisis. There needs to be accountability and the Senate needs to conduct a trial where senators have the opportunity to examine the evidence examine the record and come to a conclusion. The American people deserver accountability on this issue."

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the No. 3 Republican who is angling to become the GOP whip this fall, said Democrats are trying to "nuke impeachment" by burying the trial.

"Democrats are culpable, they coddle the criminals, and Chuck Schumer is afraid that if this damaging evidence comes out, it is going to hurt them in November, and their major concern is job security in November -- not border security or the security of our nation," Barrasso said. "Republicans are committed to a secure border and making sure the American people get the accountability that we all deserve."

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