House to send Mayorkas impeachment charges to Senate on April 10

House to send Mayorkas impeachment charges to Senate on April 10

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and House Republican impeachment managers informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a letter Thursday that they will send two impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate on April 10.

House Republicans are accusing Mayorkas of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” including “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and his breach of the public trust” — both charges the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Democrats vehemently deny.

That means the long-awaited charges will arrive in the upper chamber on the Wednesday after senators return to Washington from the two-week Easter recess.

The move will force the Senate to take up the matter, at least formally, and then Schumer will have to decide whether to hold a full trial on the Senate floor, vote to dismiss the charges immediately or to refer it to a special evidentiary committee.

“We urge you to schedule a trial of the matter expeditiously,” Johnson wrote in a letter also signed by House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“The evidence on both charges is clear, comprehensive, and compelling, and the House’s solemn act to impeach the first sitting Cabinet official in American history demands timely action by the Senate,” they wrote.

The charges require a vote by two-thirds of the Senate to convict Mayorkas and remove him from office.

“If he cares about the Constitution and ending the devastation caused by Biden’s border catastrophe, Sen. Schumer will quickly schedule a full public trial and hear the arguments put forth by our impeachment managers,” Johnson said in a statement after releasing the letter.

DHS on Thursday reiterated its earlier statement calling the move a “baseless, unconstitutional impeachment.”

“House Republicans will be remembered by history for trampling on the Constitution for political gain rather than working to solve the serious challenges at our border,” DHS said in a statement, noting that Mayorkas spent weeks working with a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators on an immigration package.

“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.”

The House voted narrowly on Feb. 13 to impeach Mayorkas on two charges, 214-213, a week after an earlier vote on the House floor failed 214-216. Three House Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the charges: Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).

Schumer has refused to say how he will handle the impeachment articles once they arrive in the Senate, only criticizing the allegations as a “sham” and unsubstantiated by evidence.

“House Republicans failed to produce any evidence that Secretary Mayorkas has committed any crime,” Schumer said the day after the House approved the charges.

“House Republicans failed to show he has violated the Constitution. House Republicans failed to present evidence of anything resembling an impeachable offense,” he declared. “This is a new low for House Republicans.”

Schumer’s office said Thursday that once the House impeachment managers present the articles of impeachment to the Senate, senators will be sworn in as jurors in the trial the next day and Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will preside over the chamber.

At that point, senators could vote to immediately dismiss the charges or refer it to an evidentiary committee. A third option would be to allow the House impeachment managers to conduct a full trial on the floor.

House Republicans rebutted Schumer’s criticisms in their Thursday letter.

They said they adopted a “methodical approach” that led them to conclude Mayorkas “refused to comply with the requirements of immigration laws passed by Congress.”

“In fact, he directed, through a series of memoranda, [Homeland Security] employees to violate U.S. immigration laws,” they wrote. “Throughout his tenure, he has repeatedly lied to Congress and the American people about the scope of the crisis and his role in it.

“His unlawful actions are responsible for the historic crisis that has devastated communities throughout our country, from the smallest border town in Texas to New York City,” they asserted.

However, their assessment is at odds with immigration law experts, who determined Mayorkas’s policies were in not in conflict with existing statutes.

And their claims that he lied to Congress are largely based on exchanges in which he disagreed with lawmakers over whether the border was under control.

The other House impeachment managers who signed the letter were Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Ben Cline (R-Va.), Michael Guest (R-Miss.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), August Pfluger (R-Texas), Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) and Laurel Lee (R-Fla.).

Senate Republican leaders have pressed Schumer to hold a full trial on the Senate floor once the impeachment articles arrive in the chamber.

“The House of Representatives has determined that Secretary Mayorkas has committed impeachable offenses. That issue will come before the United States Senate. I believe the Senate needs to hold a trial,” Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) announced at the weekly Senate GOP leadership press conference on Feb. 27.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) later said he agreed with Thune.

“I think that would be the best way forward,” he said.

The Senate last held an impeachment trial of a sitting Cabinet member in 1876, when it acquitted Secretary of War William Belknap on charges of “criminally disregarding his duty … and basely prostituting his high office to his lust for private gain.”

Rebecca Beitsch contributed. Updated at 2:12 p.m. EDT

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