Jan 31, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Schumer won't commit to Mayorkas impeachment trial

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, wearing glasses and a puffy jacket.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday declined to say whether he would hold a Senate trial into Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas if he is impeached by the House.

Why it matters: It's a demonstration of how Democrats have not just disdained the House impeachment proceedings, but dismissed their validity as little more than an illegitimate "sham."

What he's saying: Schumer, asked during a press conference on Wednesday whether he would try Majorkas, replied simply, "Let's see what the House does."

  • In a floor speech earlier in the day, Schumer said Republicans have "no evidence that Secretary Mayorkas has committed any crime."
  • "House Republicans have failed to present any evidence of anything resembling an impeachable offense," he said. "Abusing the Constitution by pursuing this sham impeachment effort is a new, ignominious low."

State of play: The House Homeland Security Committee early Wednesday morning approved two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas accusing him of refusing to comply with immigration law and lying to Congress.

  • It passed firmly along party lines and House Democrats are expected to stay unified on the floor against impeachment, which could come as soon as next week.
  • If House Republicans convince wavering members to back impeachment, Mayorkas would still face almost certain acquittal in the Senate, where even some Republicans have shrugged off the case for his impeachment.

Between the lines: The Constitution does not explicitly direct the Senate to try all House impeachments, but Senate rules direct the Senate to "proceed to the consideration" of any articles of impeachment sent over from the House.

  • Still, the Senate could vote by simple majority to delay a trial or even reinterpret the rules, according to the Niskanen Center and Lawfare.

Reality check: It is unlikely that the Senate would refuse to hold an impeachment trial, if recent history is any guide.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), no stranger to defying Senate norms, said in 2019 that the Senate had "no choice" but to try then- President Trump under Senate rules, and proceeded to do so.
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