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Senate to Convene Mayorkas Impeachment 04/17 06:23

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats could end the impeachment trial of 
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday before arguments 
even begin.

   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to call votes to dismiss 
two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas after senators are sworn in as 
jurors midday, a move that could scuttle the trial and frustrate Republicans 
who have demanded that House prosecutors be able to make their case. Democrats 
appear to be united in opposition to moving forward.

   The House narrowly voted in February to impeach Mayorkas for his handling of 
the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing in the two articles that he "willfully and 
systematically" refused to enforce immigration laws. House impeachment managers 
appointed by Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., delivered the charges to the Senate 
on Tuesday, standing in the well of the Senate and reading the them aloud to a 
captive audience of senators.

   The entire process could be done within hours on Wednesday. Majority 
Democrats have said the GOP case against Mayorkas doesn't rise to the "high 
crimes and misdemeanors" laid out as a bar for impeachment in the Constitution, 
and Schumer probably has enough votes to end the trial immediately if he 
decides to do so.

   Schumer has said he wants to "address this issue as expeditiously as 
possible."

   "Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement," Schumer 
said. "That would set a horrible precedent for the Congress."

   As Johnson signed the articles Monday in preparation for sending them across 
the Capitol, he said Schumer should convene a trial to "hold those who 
engineered this crisis to full account."

   Schumer "is the only impediment to delivering accountability for the 
American people," Johnson said. "Pursuant to the Constitution, the House 
demands a trial."

   Once the senators are sworn in on Wednesday, the chamber will turn into the 
court of impeachment, with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington 
presiding. Murray is the president pro tempore of the Senate, or the 
senior-most member of the majority party who sits in for the vice president.

   Exactly how Democrats will proceed on Wednesday is still unclear. 
Impeachment rules generally allow the Senate majority to decide how to manage 
the trial, and Schumer has not said exactly what he will do.

   Senate Republicans are likely to try to raise a series of objections if 
Schumer calls votes to dismiss or table. But ultimately they cannot block a 
dismissal if majority Democrats have the votes.

   In any case, Republicans would not be able to win the support of the 
two-thirds of the Senate that is needed to convict and remove Mayorkas from 
office -- Democrats control the Senate, 51-49, and they appear to be united 
against the impeachment effort. Not one House Democrat supported it, either.

   While most Republicans oppose quick dismissal, some have hinted they could 
vote with Democrats.

   Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said last week he wasn't sure what he would do if 
there were a move to dismiss the trial. "I think it's virtually certain that 
there will not be the conviction of someone when the constitutional test has 
not been met," he said.

   At the same time, Romney said he wants to at least express his view that 
"Mayorkas has done a terrible job, but he's following the direction of the 
president and has not met the constitutional test of a high crime or 
misdemeanor."

   The two articles argue that Mayorkas not only refused to enforce existing 
law but also breached the public trust by lying to Congress and saying the 
border was secure. The House vote was the first time in nearly 150 years a 
Cabinet secretary was impeached.

   Since then, Johnson has delayed sending the articles to the Senate for weeks 
while both chambers finished work on government funding legislation and took a 
two-week recess. Johnson had said he would send them to the Senate last week, 
but he punted again after Senate Republicans said they wanted more time to 
prepare.

   House impeachment managers previewed some of their arguments at a hearing 
with Mayorkas on Tuesday morning about President Joe Biden's budget request for 
the department.

   Tennessee Rep. Mark Green, the chairman of the House Homeland Security 
panel, told the secretary that he has a duty under the law to control and guard 
U.S. borders, and "during your three years as secretary, you have failed to 
fulfill this oath. You have refused to comply with the laws passed by Congress, 
and you have breached the public trust."

   Mayorkas defended the department's efforts but said the nation's immigration 
system is "fundamentally broken, and only Congress can fix it."

   Other impeachment managers are Michael McCaul of Texas, Andy Biggs of 
Arizona, Ben Cline of Virginia, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Michael Guest of 
Mississippi, Harriet Hageman of Wyoming, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, Laurel Lee 
of Florida, August Plfuger of Texas and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

   At a press conference with a group of Republican senators after the articles 
were delivered, the impeachment managers demanded that Schumer move forward 
with their case.

   "The voice of the people is very clear," said McCaul, the chairman of the 
House Foreign Affairs Committee. "Secure the border and impeach this man, this 
criminal."

   If Democrats are unable to dismiss or table the articles, they could follow 
the precedent of several impeachment trials for federal judges over the last 
century and hold a vote to create a trial committee that would investigate the 
charges. While there is sufficient precedent for this approach, Democrats may 
prefer to end the process completely, especially in a presidential election 
year when immigration and border security are top issues.

   If the Senate were to proceed to an impeachment trial, it would be the third 
in five years. Democrats impeached President Donald Trump twice, once over his 
dealings with Ukraine and a second time in the days after the Jan. 6, 2021, 
attack on the Capitol. Trump was acquitted by the Senate both times.

   At a trial, senators would be forced to sit in their seats for the duration, 
maybe weeks, while the House impeachment managers and lawyers representing 
Mayorkas make their cases. The Senate is allowed to call witnesses, as well, if 
it so decides, and it can ask questions of both sides after the opening 
arguments are finished.

 
 
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