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Texas Republicans urge Senate Democrats to give Mayorkas a full impeachment trial


Texas Republicans urge Senate Democrats to give Mayorkas a full impeachment trial

Apr 16, 2024 | 4:32 pm ET
By Matthew Choi Sejal Govindarao
Texas Republicans urge Senate Democrats to give Mayorkas a full impeachment trial
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, right, listens as President Joe Biden receives a briefing from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, USCIS and ICE during a visit to Brownsville on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Eli Hartman/The Texas Tribune)

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, August Pfluger, R-San Angelo, and nine other Republican impeachment managers presented the articles of impeachment Tuesday against U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate, urging Democrats to give the secretary a full trial.

“We did our job in the House, and I pray that [Senate Majority Chuck] Schumer will do his job in the Senate as he is required to do under the Constitution,” McCaul said during a news conference with other managers and several senators after delivering the articles to the upper chamber.

The House voted to impeach the secretary on Feb. 13 over charges of refusing to enforce the law and “breach of public trust.” U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, introduced those articles late last year.

Democrats in Congress and the Biden administration have blasted Mayorkas’ impeachment as a specious abuse of a constitutional measure reserved for the most egregious offenses. The Senate requires a two third vote to convict Mayorkas — an exceedingly slim possibility considering Democrats hold the majority.

Schumer said senators would be sworn in as jurors Wednesday afternoon. Schumer has previously indicated he would try to make the trial a quick affair.

“We want to address this issue as expeditiously as possible,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement. Talk about awful precedence”

McCaul and Pfluger both sit on the House Homeland Security Committee, which has jurisdiction over Mayorkas’ department. McCaul was chair of the committee from 2013 to 2019. He served as a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department before being elected to Congress.

The other managers include Greene, House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green of Tennessee, Reps. 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 and Laurel Lee of Florida.

If Democrats quickly dismiss the articles of impeachment, the impeachment managers will have few procedural options to force a longer trial, McCaul acknowledged. He added that the managers would stress that a trial is a constitutional requirement of the Senate.

U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, said she saw the impeachment managers cross the Capitol toward the Senate chamber, calling it “unceremonious” and “subdued” compared to her experience as an impeachment manager in the trial for former president Donald Trump. She said it’s hard to compare the two because the impeachment of Mayorkas is a “sham,” and Trump’s impeachment proceedings had validity.

“I can't even believe that they would want to serve as impeachment managers when you know that it’s all just a sham,” Garcia said of the Texas Republicans whom House Speaker Mike Johnson tapped to serve as impeachment managers.

The Senate will determine the rules of the trial, which will dictate much of the managers’ strategy in prosecuting Mayorkas. McCaul said he would prefer to have witnesses speak, including the families of victims of fentanyl poisoning.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was among the senators who joined impeachment managers during Tuesday’s news conference. Cruz accused Schumer of trying to bypass the trial to protect vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year. He pointed out Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, who will have to defend his seat representing a conservative state in November. Cruz accused Tester of fleeing the chamber as the impeachment managers entered the chamber.

“The stakes of this impeachment are not some technical violation of law but rather an enormous and growing threat to the lives and safety of millions of Americans,” Cruz said. “Tomorrow we’re going to see Chuck Schumer throw out 200 years of history and ignore the Constitution. Why? Because he does not want these managers to present the evidence of the people dying because of their policies.”

Cruz said Tester left the chamber "because apparently it was too frightening to hear the managers simply read the facts of the people who were dying because of the policies he supports."

Tester's office said he was present in the chamber and was reviewing the articles of impeachment. Tester could be seen leaving his desk when the impeachment managers were in the chamber.

House Republicans had pushed for impeaching Mayorkas for a year as they expressed their frustration with the state of the southern border. Republicans routinely used Mayorkas’ appearances before the House, including during hearings nominally on issues unrelated to the border, to blast the administration’s border policy.

U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Sherman, introduced a different set of articles of impeachment against Mayorkas early last year. U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-San Antonio, was a vocal supporter of Greene’s effort, helping House Republican leadership curry support with moderates.

Both of Texas’ senators, John Cornyn and Cruz, have previously expressed support for ousting Mayorkas. They were among 43 Senate Republicans who wrote to Schumer earlier this month demanding a full trial.

“Since 2021, Secretary Mayorkas has abdicated control of America’s borders to a magnitude unparalleled in our Nation’s history,” the senators wrote. “Absent Secretary Mayorkas’ immediate resignation, this impeachment should remain faithful to Senatorial precedent.”

Mayorkas has repeatedly rebuffed Republican calls to resign.

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