Democrats will try to dismiss Mayorkas impeachment articles as GOP demands full trial

Written by on April 17, 2024

Photo by Mike Kline (notkalvin)/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday Democrats will ultimately seek to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“Today, the trial will commence, and we will be in our seats as jurors for the third time in four years. 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,” Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor.

“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,” Schumer added.

Senators are expected to square off, largely along party lines, over whether to proceed with a full-scale trial of Mayorkas over his handling of immigration policy and the southern border when they convene at 1 p.m. EDT.

“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 said.

House GOP managers delivered two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas Tuesday, and the next step in the proceedings calls for senators to be sworn in as jurors, sitting as a court of impeachment, on Wednesday afternoon.

Because Democrats control the Senate, and if they stick together, they could quickly win a vote to dismiss the articles. Just 51 votes would be needed.

Many Democrats believe that the articles of impeachment, which accuse Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust” are baseless and politicized.

But Schumer’s facing a fight from Senate Republicans, many of whom are enraged at the suggestion that there wouldn’t be a full trial.

“This is raw gut politics,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said during a news conference on Tuesday where he shared the stage with the House impeachment managers.

“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,” he said.

Beyond complaining, though, there’s very little Republicans can ultimately do to get their demands met if all Democrats stick together.

But it’s not clear that they will.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., faces a difficult reelection fight in increasingly-red Montana this fall. He hasn’t yet said whether or not he would support a motion to dismiss and has repeatedly told reporters he’d wait to make a decision until he’s read the articles.

Notably, when the articles were being read aloud in the Senate by impeachment manager Rep. Mark Green on Tuesday, Tester, who had previously been seated in the chamber, left his seat and headed to the cloak room.

He caught flack for it from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the GOP news conference shortly after.

“Jon Tester was nowhere to be found because apparently it was too frightening to hear the managers imply read the facts of the people that were dying because of policies he supports,” Cruz said.

It’s unclear what Tester will ultimately decide. But if he sticks with his party, there is ultimately very little Republicans can do to force a trial to go on. That doesn’t mean they’ll make things easy.

If Democrats want to quickly table the trial, Republicans are expected to offer a number of procedural points of order that would force votes and could eat up several hours of floor time.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., told reporters after a closed-door lunch Tuesday that there’s been an ongoing behind-the-scenes discussion about an agreement that would allow several hours of debate over whether a trial is necessary before a motion to dismiss is ultimately voted on.

“For those of us who would like to have some discussion or debate the potentially offer that we are going to be considering I think offers us an opportunity to build our case,” Tillis said.

Such an agreement would require the consent of all senators, and it’s unclear if that could happen.

Senators might also try to send the trial to a committee for it to be heard, as they’re permitted to do when an impeachment is brought against someone who is not a sitting president.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who has been among those demanding a trial, suggested this might be an “acceptable” outcome.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will strongly oppose Democratic efforts to quash the impeachment effort, saying it is the chamber’s solemn duty to take the matter seriously.

“The Senate will be called for just the 19th time in our history to rule on the impeachment of a senior official of our government. It’s a responsibility to be taken seriously.

“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,” McConnell said.

“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,” he added.

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