On Air Now

Pittsburgh Pirates
Pittsburgh Pirates
1:00pm - 4:00pm

DuBois Weather

GOP senators demand full trial in Mayorkas impeachment

SHARE NOW

(WASHINGTON) — Senators are expected to square off Wednesday, largely along party lines, over whether to proceed with a full-scale trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of immigration policy and the southern border.

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 at 1 p.m. EDT.

But after senators take the oath, how things go from there is a somewhat open question.

Democrats control the Senate, and if they stick together, they could quickly vote to dismiss — or table — the articles without ever holding more of a trial. It would take 51 votes.

Democratic leaders have kept their cards close to the vest about managing the articles, but there’s little appetite among Senate Democrats to hold a full-scale impeachment trial.

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.

“Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement,” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “Let me say that again: Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement. Talk about awful precedents. This would set an awful precedent for Congress. Every time there’s a policy agreement in the House, they send it over here and tie the Senate in knots to do an impeachment trial? That’s absurd. That’s an abuse of the process. That is more chaos.”

Schumer has promised to manage the articles “as expeditiously as possible” but has not said exactly what that would look like.

He’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,” he said.

“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.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.