April 20, 2024
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is facing pressure from Republicans to hold a full impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas when the House sends over the impeachment articles at the end of the month. The House voted last Tuesday to impeach Mayorkas, whom Republicans have accused of refusing to enforce existing federal […]

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is facing pressure from Republicans to hold a full impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas when the House sends over the impeachment articles at the end of the month.

The House voted last Tuesday to impeach Mayorkas, whom Republicans have accused of refusing to enforce existing federal border laws amid record illegal migrant crossings, in a 214-213 vote. The impeachment articles will now be sent to the Senate for a trial, where members will act as jurors deciding whether to acquit or convict.

What remains to be seen is whether Schumer will allow for a full trial or an expedited process with a quick vote on the articles, which will be delivered at a hectic time for the Senate. Schumer‘s office said the articles would be delivered later this month when the upper chamber reconvenes following a two-week recess.

“I got to tell you, with the Mayorkas impeachment, you know what Schumer wants to do? He doesn’t even want to have a trial,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told Fox News on Sunday. “He doesn’t even want to have senators vote on guilty or not guilty. What he’s trying to do is simply table it, just put it aside.”

“In over 200 years of our nation’s history, the Senate has never once tabled articles of impeachment. That has never happened,” he added. “Every single time, the Senate has voted, has voted on either guilt or innocence, or the House has withdrawn the impeachment.”

Democrats are reluctant to hold a drawn-out trial on what they have denounced as a political exercise and could move to dismiss the articles sometime after jurors are sworn in with a simple majority vote.

Schumer’s colleagues in Democratic leadership are among those who want the Senate to quickly dispose of the articles.

“Sen. Schumer’s going to decide what to do, but it certainly is, from where I sit, just a political process,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, told the Washington Examiner earlier this month.

“I’m fine with moving to dismiss it, personally, because I think it’s just a political sham, unfortunately — just continues the chaos in the House, where they have no interest in governing,” Stabenow said.

The problem for Schumer is that tabling the articles would be unheard of.

The House has sent 22 impeachment articles to the Senate over the course of U.S. history. Of those instances, the Senate never once tabled or tossed the articles. On two occasions, the individual facing impeachment resigned before a trial could occur. Schumer needs to allow for a trial to move forward to be in line with historical precedent.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested last week that he could be amenable to siding with Schumer to avoid a full-blown trial paralyzing the upper chamber. 

“I don’t think we’ll have two endless trials like we’ve had recently,” he said.

A Schumer spokesman did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment on the matter. 

Cruz, an ardent critic of McConnell’s leadership, said over the weekend that the situation provides Senate GOP leadership an opportunity to push back against conservative disapproval. 

“If Republican leadership in the Senate doesn’t like the criticism, here’s an opportunity to demonstrate some backbone,” he said. “They could stand up and say, ‘Let’s have a trial.’ They can stand up and say, ‘You cannot refuse to even follow the constitutional process for impeachment. You can’t dodge responsibility.’”

Democratic strategists had differing thoughts on how Schumer may proceed. Some speculated to the Washington Examiner that the majority leader would quickly move to begin a speedy trial, while others suggested he may consider tabling the articles completely. 

“I don’t see him giving it the legitimacy of a floor vote in the United States Senate when there’s so much real policy and problem solving to get done,” Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist with Mercury Public Affairs, said. “He is laser focused on Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, on keeping the government open, confirming judges. There is so much to do right now that’s actually serious.”

Chris Coffey, a longtime Democratic strategist and CEO of Tusk Strategies, had trouble seeing how Democrats would benefit from holding a full trial. 

“Chuck would have to make the calculation that it makes the Republicans look so bad to even waste their time on this trial, and I’m not sure that that’s what he thinks,” Coffey said. “It makes both parties look bad. The American people are sending folks to Congress to get stuff done, and having a failed trial for the secretary of homeland security can’t be what most Americans want their government to focus on.”

Republicans are also urging Vice President Kamala Harris to preside over the trial rather than Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-WA). 

The presiding officer role is largely ceremonial, with Murray’s primary responsibility being to administer the oath of office to senators at the start of the trial. Murray will also be a juror alongside her colleagues, as former Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy was when he oversaw former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. 

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) penned a letter to Harris last week encouraging her to preside over the matter because of her role in addressing the root causes of illegal immigration. 

“When President Biden appointed you as the ‘border czar’ in early 2021, he tasked you with ‘stemming the migration to our southern border.’ In accepting that appointment, you acknowledged a need ‘to deal with the root causes’ of the flows of illegal immigration across our southern border,” Scott wrote in his missive to Harris.

“As such, you should be keenly interested in learning whether a high-ranking member of your administration is one of those ‘root causes’ through his willful and persistent refusal to enforce our country’s immigration laws, frustrating the very core function of your role as President Biden’s ‘border czar,’” he added.

For her part, Harris has not responded to the offer. 

Both Scott and Cruz were among the 13 Republican senators who penned a letter to McConnell on Tuesday urging him to support a full trial.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

“According to multiple briefings by your staff, Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Democrats
intend to dispense with the articles of impeachment by simply tabling both individually,” the group wrote. “This is an action rarely contemplated and never taken by the U.S. Senate in the history of our Republic.”

“It remains to be seen if the Senate rules will even allow us to brush aside our duty in this manner,
but one thing is sure, if a similar strategy was contemplated by Senate Republicans when we
were in the majority with a Republican occupying the White House, the opposition would be
fierce and the volume from Democrats would be deafening,” they added.

David Sivak contributed to this report.

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