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Senate Democrats quickly dismiss impeachment articles against Mayorkas

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York

By Bethany Blankley
The Center Square

Within 20 minutes of convening to hold an impeachment trial of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Democrats in the Senate steamrolled through motions and voted to dismiss the first article of impeachment brought against him.

Shortly thereafter, they dismissed the second article as well, without ever hearing evidence or conducting a trial.

Two impeachment charges were delivered by the U.S. House to the Senate on Tuesday. The Republican-controlled House voted to impeach Mayorkas in February over allegations related to the ongoing border crisis.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said a debate would be held. However, within minutes of the proceedings beginning, no debate was held and Schumer moved to dismiss both articles of impeachment.

He said the articles of impeachment were unconstitutional, didn’t rise to level of a high crime and misdemeanor and should be dismissed.

After several motions filed that failed by votes along party lines of 51-49, the Senate voted to dismiss the first article of impeachment by a vote of 51 to 48 with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voting present. The first article delivered by the Republican-controlled House cited "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law."

U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Missouri, was the first senator to object to the first article being dismissed.

“To dismiss or table articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas without a trial here today or in committee is an unprecedented move by Senator Schumer,” he said. “Never before in the history of our Republic has the Senate dismissed or tabled articles of impeachment when the impeached individual was alive and had not resigned. As Senator Schumer said in 2020, 'A fair trial has witnesses. A fair trial has relevant documents. As part of the record, a fair trial seeks the truth, nothing more, nothing less.'

“I will not assist Senator Schumer in setting our Constitution ablaze and bulldoze 200 years of precedent.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, then filed a motion to proceed with the trial. He said Schumer “has argued that Secretary Mayorkas' defiance of federal immigration law and active aiding and abetting of the worst criminal invasion in our nation's history does not constitute a high crime or misdemeanor. He has presented no argument on that question. He's presented no briefing on that question and his position is directly contrary to the original understanding of the Constitution at the time it was ratified and to the explicit position of the Biden Department of Justice has argued before the Supreme Court.”

Schumer’s position “is asking members of the Senate to vote on political expediency to avoid listening to arguments. The only rational way to resolve this question is actually to debate it, to consider the Constitution and consider the law,” Cruz said.

His motion was defeated by a vote along party lines of 51-49.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, also filed a motion to adjourn the impeachment until April 30. It was defeated by a vote of 51-49, also along party lines.

Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, stood up expressing shock by the development, arguing, “the Senate just swore an oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws of our country. We swore to discharge a duty that is quite different from our normal work. As a court of impeachment, we're called not to speak, not to debate, but to listen to the case against the accused and to his defense.

“At this point, in any trial in the country the prosecution presents the evidence of the case. Counsel for the defense does the same and the jury remains silent as it listens. This is what our rules require of us as well. But the Senate has not had the opportunity to perform this duty.”

Under Schumer’s scheme, he said, “the Senate will not hear the House managers present the details of their case against Secretary Mayorkas that he willingly neglected the duties of his office and that he lied to Congress about the extent of that failure. Likewise, we will not hear the secretary’s representatives present the vigorous defense to which he’s entitled.”

Senate Democrats “know that we are obligated to take these proceedings seriously. This is what our oath prescribes,” he said. Holding a trial “is what the framers actually envisioned. The power of impeachment is one of the most delicate balances our constitutional system strikes with a portion of the American people's sovereign electoral authority. It purchases a safeguard against malpractice and gives the Senate the power and the duty to decide. This process must not be abused. It must not be short circuited. History will not judge this moment well.”

He filed a motion to table Schumer’s motion, which also lost along party lines by a vote of 51-49.

The Senate then voted to dismiss the first article of impeachment.

Schumer then moved to dismiss Article 2, arguing it “does not allege conduct that rises to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor as required under Article 2 Section 4 of the United States Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said Schumer was “very wrong” for dismissing the articles “but he is even more wrong” for dismissing the second one because it accuses Mayorkas “of knowingly making false statements. This is a violation of 18 USC section 1001 – a felony offense. If this is not a high crime and misdemeanor, what is? If this is not impeachable, what is?”

His remarks were cut short and talked over by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, who presided over the proceedings. Lee also filed a motion to debate the article behind closed doors, which failed along party lines by a vote of 51-49.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, said as jurors they had not had the time to review if Schumer’s point of order was contrary to the U.S. Constitution and moved to adjourn proceedings. His motion failed.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., asked, “are we about to set a precedent that an allegation of a felony is not a high crime and misdemeanor? Do the [Democratic] senators understand what they are doing?”

Murray said his question “wasn’t an appropriate parliamentary inquiry.”

Kennedy said lying to Congress is a felony and “since we're not allowed to talk among ourselves about the absurdity of this and my Democratic colleagues will not allow us to go into closed session to talk about this,” he moved to adjourn and hold a trial on May 1. He filed two motions, which also failed.

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-SD, tried to table Schumer's point of order, which failed.

Senate Democrats then passed Schumer’s motion to dismiss the second article of impeachment by a vote of 51-49.

Within less than an hour and a half, Senate Democrats ended any possibility of a trial.

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