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GOP on Mayorkas impeachment outcome: Biden cabinet given blank slate to ignore law

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Senate Republicans blasted their Democratic colleagues Wednesday for blocking the U.S. Senate from holding an impeachment trial of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, arguing their actions were unconstitutional.

The Senate twice voted along party lines Wednesday to dismiss two articles of impeachment after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, filed a motion arguing the articles themselves were unconstitutional.

No debate was allowed and no trial was held despite Schumer saying the opposite just hours before. The entire proceeding was over in roughly an hour and a half.

House Republicans impeached Mayorkas in February on two articles, the first claiming he violated his oath of office by “willfully and systemically” refusing “to comply with Federal immigration laws.” The second alleges he “knowingly made false statements, and knowingly obstructed lawful oversight of the Department of Homeland Security of his office” by lying to Congress.

After the Senate adjourned, Republicans made floor statements, led by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. Lee said what happened was “truly historic. Nothing like this has ever occurred. Under Article 1, Section 3, Clause 6 [of the U.S. Constitution], we’ve been given a duty. We’ve been given the sole exclusive power to try all impeachments. Not some of them, not just those with which we have happened to agree, not just those that we are happy that the House of Representatives undertook to prosecute, but all.”

A constitutional scholar who clerked for the then future Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Lee explained what he said should have been the trial process. The senators were first sworn in as jurors but then “were precluded from doing” their job, he said, “in a way that is not only historic and unprecedented but also counter constitutional. Nothing could be further from the text of the constitution.”

The impeachment charges were dismissed by a point of order raised by Schumer, who argued the articles “don’t allege conduct that rises to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor as required under Article 2 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.”

Schumer’s argument was “patently absurd,” Lee said, adding that the majority leader willfully refused to follow the law. Schumer also contradicted arguments made by the Biden administration’s solicitor general before the U.S. Supreme Court, who said the way to hold accountable members of the executive branch was to impeach them, Lee argued.

Lee cited examples of what he argued was Mayorkas lying to Congress, a felony offense, reiterating claims he made while objecting throughout the proceedings.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, asked Lee “even though lying to the United States Congress is a felony, under the precedent that the Majority Leader and our Democratic colleagues established, it’s not a high crime or misdemeanor, is that what we did?”

“That is precisely what the precedent established today,” Lee replied. Democrats dismissing the charges “set a precedent that effectively, very arguably, effectively immunizes from impeachment making a false statement to Congress.”

Kennedy said he was trying to follow Schumer’s logic, asking, “What do you have to do to get impeached now? What is above a felony?”

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, also asked about how Congress can enforce any of its constitutional powers. According to the law, she said, “lying to Congress is a felony. Since we’re no longer using impeachment as a means to address someone who’s lying to Congress, how does Congress prosecute or address someone who deliberately lies to Congress? Now that the Senate has swept away through this precedential action today the opportunity to use impeachment for that purpose?”

Lee said Senate Democrats immunized the impeachment process and jeopardized the oversight process of Congress.

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, said Senate Democrats “gutted” the U.S. Senate and “we lost part of our powers … that we will never get back.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said, “I’m sorry to say that my friend from Kansas is not wrong. In the 237 years of our nation’s history, I don’t know that there has been a more shameful day in the United States Senate than today. What we just witnessed was a travesty. It was a travesty to the United States Constitution and it was a travesty to the American people.

“Not a single Democrat senator chose to come to this floor and listen to one word of evidence,” he said. Instead, they concluded that “Joe Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas defying federal law, ignoring the text of the statute, deliberately releasing criminal illegal aliens over and over and over again, that’s just hunky dory.”

As a result, every cabinet member has “been given a blank slate to ignore the law. When Democrats are in charge of the Senate, the entire cabinet could ignore the law, it is no longer impeachable in Democrat Wonderland when a member of the executive branch openly defies the law.”

Cruz noted that former President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying in a civil trial and the precedent prior to today was “you commit a crime, lying under oath, perjury, it’s a high crime or misdemeanor. That’s an impeachable offense. No more.”