Jan 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Democrats slam Republicans over "sham" Mayorkas impeachment

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, during a news conference at the US Capitol

Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, during a news conference. Photo: Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Democrats are decrying an "abuse of power" in the GOP effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Why it matters: The 29-page Democratic defense of Mayorkas, released Monday, comes as Republicans barrel toward an historic impeachment of the cabinet secretary.

  • "This is, at best, a sham," said Homeland Security Committee ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) at a Monday press conference.
  • "This is a political stunt and a hit job, ordered by two people, Donald Trump, and Marjorie Taylor Greene," said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

Catch up quick: Mayorkas is being charged for "willfully and systemically refused to comply" with immigration laws by releasing migrants and asylum-seekers into the U.S. rather than detaining them and abusing the use of a legal mechanism called parole.

  • He also is charged with breaching public trust by knowingly making false statements to Congress.

In their rebuttal, Homeland Democrats said these "vague, unprecedented, and fallacious charges amount to policy disputes with the Biden administration—and clearly do not pass muster as legitimate grounds for impeachment under the Constitution."

  • The report accuses of Republicans of wielding impeachment out of policy disagreement and political self-interest.
  • It defends Mayorkas' record — touting record migrant removals and full detention centers as well as other border security policies implemented by the administration.
  • They accuse Republicans of hypocrisy for demanding more from Mayorkas, while denying the department the additional funds it needs.

What to watch: The Democrats focus on Republicans failing to provide evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors — the constitutional standard for impeachment.

  • They have repeatedly pointed to constitutional scholars who have said they don't see a case for impeachment.
  • "There is no treason. There is no bribery. There is no high crime and misdemeanor. You have two completely made up accusations in a litany of articles of impeachment, that simply recite policy disputes," Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) said Monday.

The other side: Republicans plan to counter on Tuesday, including by arguing that the term "misdemeanor" was defined differently by the founding fathers.

  • They say it referred to a more general though serious poor behavior rather than committing any specific crime, according to sources close to the proceedings.
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