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Senate rejects Mayorkas impeachment charges at trial, ending GOP bid to oust him

Washington- The Senate quickly got rid of both impeachment charges against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by calling a short meeting trial On Wednesday, it ended a months-long effort to punish the secretary for his handling of the southern border.

The Senate’s 51-member Democratic majority rejected both charges as unconstitutional, over objections from Republican members. The entire procedure took only three hours.

Mayorkas became the second cabinet secretary in U.S. history to be impeached when the House charged him in February with “willful and systemic failure to comply with the law” and “breach of public trust.” “. Democrats strongly opposed the impeachment proceedings, calling it a political stunt and saying the allegations amounted to political disagreement well below the constitutional threshold required for impeachment.

Under the Constitution, the Senate is responsible for holding a trial to determine whether impeached officials are guilty and should be removed from office. The House transmitted the articles Tuesday, and senators were sworn in as jurors Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and speaker pro tempore of the House, presided over the trial. The senators took turns signing a book of oath, an indication of the seriousness of the debates.

Senators take an oath to act as impartial jurors ahead of the impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in the Senate on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

Senate Television

The outcome of the trial was a foregone conclusion, given Democratic control of the chamber. Still, Senate Republicans have called on Democratic leaders to hold a thorough trial, and a handful of Republican lawmakers have tried to delay the proceedings. When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to reach an agreement allowing a period of debate after senators were sworn in, Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt objected, accusing Schumer of having “ignited our Constitution” by refusing to hold a full trial. .

Without that agreement, Schumer then opted for a different route: asking senators to vote on a point of order about whether the first impeachment charge met the threshold for “high crimes and misdemeanors” set out in the Constitution. The move effectively prevented Senate Republicans from presenting their own points of order, which could have further derailed the proceedings.

Senators ultimately voted 51-48, along party lines, that the first article of impeachment was unconstitutional, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, voting present. On the second article, senators voted 51-49, with Murkowski joining his fellow Republicans.

Before the votes, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, argued that Schumer had presented no evidence that the charge was unconstitutional and proposed moving the impeachment trial behind closed doors for debate. His motion was unsuccessful.

“The majority leader’s position is to ask members of this Senate to vote for political expediency to avoid listening to arguments,” Cruz said. “The only rational way to resolve this issue is to debate it, to examine the Constitution and the law.”

A number of other Republican senators took turns offering different motions Wednesday afternoon to delay the end of the trial. But each of them failed in the Democratic-controlled House.

Mia Ehrenberg, a DHS spokeswoman, said in a statement that the Senate’s decision to reject the articles of impeachment “definitively proves that there was no evidence or constitutional grounds to justify impeachment.”

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