Senate Should Dismiss Mayorkas Impeachment With No Trial

[ Posted Thursday, March 28th, 2024 – 15:33 UTC ]

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has now indicated that he will be officially sending the articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over to the Senate on April 10th. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded by stating that all the senators will be sworn in as jurors the next day, but what will happen after that point is very much up in the air. The Senate could hold a full trial with House impeachment managers presenting what they consider their evidence as they make their case for removing Mayorkas. Or the Senate could just move straight to a vote on the articles of impeachment -- where a two-thirds majority would be necessary to remove Mayorkas from office. Or the Senate could choose to not waste any more of their precious time and just vote to dismiss the trial altogether. This would only require a simple majority to pass, meaning if they all stuck together Democrats could halt the proceedings before they even get underway.

That last option is the best, and it's already got some Republicans worried. The letter sent to Schumer from the House Republicans included an attempt at shaming him into doing what they want him to do: "We call upon you to fulfill your constitutional obligation to hold this trial.... To table articles of impeachment without ever hearing a single argument or reviewing a piece of evidence would be a violation of our constitutional order and an affront to the American people whom we all serve." Some Senate Republicans -- led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- are also calling for a full trial. However, Chuck Schumer's answer to Mitch should really be something along the lines of: "Oh really? A violation of our constitutional order, you say? Like that time when you refused to hold a single hearing on a Supreme Court nominee because you didn't like who was president at the time? You mean like that?" If political hardball is the way to run the Senate, then when you are in the minority you are not going to be happy at times -- this is the lesson McConnell taught us all, so he really shouldn't have any problem now that the shoe is on the other foot, right?

Impeachment is a political exercise, at its heart. Gerald Ford put it best (when he was the House minority leader, before he became president): "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history." The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the Constitution can be defined however the majority sees fit, in other words. And the Senate is free to disagree with that decision on political grounds as well.

Alejandro Mayorkas was impeached because House Republicans didn't like President Joe Biden's border policies, which Mayorkas was in charge of implementing. It is a policy dispute. It is entirely political. There is no crime or misdemeanor at all here. What's more, everyone knows this. House Republicans almost didn't have the votes for this impeachment -- it failed on the first try -- because several members from their own ranks wouldn't vote for it (because it is such an unserious application of the power of impeachment). There is absolutely no chance -- zero chance -- that two-thirds of the Senate will vote to remove Mayorkas from office. If such a vote is actually held, many Republicans have indicated that they wouldn't even vote against Mayorkas. Add that in with all the Democrats (who hold the majority) and you get a very clear majority in support of Mayorkas. It's even conceivable that he would get a two-thirds vote against removing him (although that's admittedly a longshot).

As I said, everyone knows these basic facts. No "trial" or "evidence" is going to change any of it. The case for removing Mayorkas will boil down to: "Here's how we Republicans think he should be doing his job and what policies he should be implementing." This is only the second time in history a cabinet member has been impeached, because up to this point in American history everyone (even House Republicans) knew full well that political and policy disagreements are not impeachable offenses, period. But as Ford pointed out, with the rabid rightwing House we've got now, they can define "impeachable offense" however they wish.

Which is exactly why Schumer should give the impeachment trial all the seriousness it deserves -- which is to say: "none." Swear everybody in, accept a motion to dismiss, and get it over with as quickly as possible. That is the correct course of action here.

Do not give the House Republicans the dog-and-pony show they truly want to put on. Do not give them a huge platform to make inherently political arguments. It is as plain as day that Mayorkas has not committed any crimes or misdemeanors, so to allow the House impeachment managers to baselessly attack him while the entire country watches would be a huge mistake.

Impeaching Mayorkas has never been anything more than political payback. House Republicans really wanted to impeach Joe Biden, but even though they've been diligently looking, they haven't uncovered a shred of evidence of any wrongdoing by him. Donald Trump was impeached twice, so the GOP really wanted to impeach Biden at least once as payback, but it hasn't panned out (and won't). So the Mayorkas impeachment is their consolation prize.

But because it is so unserious -- such a wrongful application of the impeachment power -- it does not deserve consideration by the Senate. Rejecting the entire trial will send a very strong message that impeachment should go back to being reserved for actual crimes and misdeeds, not political policy disagreements. This message will be loud and clear: "When you send us real impeachments, then we will hold real trials -- but until you do, we are not going to indulge your need to spout your political posturing on national television."

So sure -- swear all the senators in as a "jury." And then the jury can move for the equivalent of a "summary judgment" -- a snap decision that the case has been wrongly brought. This case deserves nothing more than being laughed out of court, in other words. Call for a vote to dismiss the entire proceeding, hold that vote, and then get on with doing the actual business of the Senate. That would be the best course of action, and I sincerely hope Schumer and the rest of the Senate Democrats take it.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


5 Comments on “Senate Should Dismiss Mayorkas Impeachment With No Trial”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Agree completely. Doubt Chuck has the balls though.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This seems to be a lose-lose-lose situation, politically, for Dems.

    Speaking of which, I hear that former president Clinton said that Democrats should not make the mistakes of 2016 this time around.

    Say what!!!??? Now THAT is unintentionally hilarious.

    Can the Clintons not just go the frak away!?

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There is a way, though, that the Biden administration could shrug off and indeed successfully counter all of the Clinton and impeachment nonsense and other negative impacts on the president's re-election campaign and that is to get real with its backing of Israel's seige of Gaza.

    The US-powered Israeli seige of Gaza has now killed over 32,000 Gazans - mostly women and children and far more than in the entire Russian invasion of Ukraine - with countless thousands more buried under the ruble or well into the process of starving to death.

    Israeli citizens and other nationals, including Americans, are still being held by Hamas and are suffering war crimes in oppressive and inhumane conditions, some of whom have been killed by the bombing or directly and up close by IDF forces.

    Finally, at long last, the US avoided vetoing another call for a ceasefire in Gaza by abstaining from the latest UN Security Council vote.

    When will Biden start forcefully calling for Hamas to release all hostages and handover those responsible for the horrific 10/7 attacks (with or without any Hamas prisoner release - without, in my opinion ... why should Hamas prisoners in Israel be released ... if any need be released from Israeli prisons, why not release some Palestinians who have not been charged with murder of Israeli citizens) and a permanent ceasefire and end to the humanitarian crisis.

    Of course, he would also have to announce a plan for what comes after the ceasefire and this plan should revolve around the end of the Netanyahu regime or an end to lethal military aid to Israel.

    World Court orders Israel to halt Gaza famine

  4. [4] 
    Kick wrote:

    Since Republican lawmakers are fleeing the House at a record pace and the Castrated Caucus hasn't been able to give Hair Dick Tater the election year impeachment of Biden that Trump has long coveted, the MAGAts have therefore been relegated to a performance art trial of Biden-Mayorkas. If there is anyone with two brain cells to rub together that doesn't realize this show trial is obviously aimed at Joe Biden, then they haven't been paying attention.

    Call for a vote to dismiss the entire proceeding, hold that vote, and then get on with doing the actual business of the Senate. That would be the best course of action, and I sincerely hope Schumer and the rest of the Senate Democrats take it.

    After which, the GOP will then accuse Democrats of not taking immigration issues seriously... in the "same shit different day" fashion the MAGAts already blame them on any day that ends in "Y"... so might as well not give them what they want and end it quickly, cut to the chase:

    Mayorkas was impeached over immigration policy issues and not "high crimes and misdemeanors." Republicans demanded a change in immigration policies in exchange for aid to Ukraine, a bipartisan deal was negotiated in the Senate which President Biden agreed to sign, and then Donald Trump tanked the legislation because he wants to run his campaign around the border, white racial grievance, and racism... same shit different day.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    By the way, the polls today are not looking good for the Biden re-election campaign.

    Dem supporters are saying that a lot can change and the polls can shift between now and election day.

    That is for sure - they could get a lot worse!

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