MO, KS Republicans called for full impeachment trial of Mayorkas. Democrats dismissed them

The impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was never likely to pass the Senate.

Convicting Mayorkas of high crimes and misdemeanors, which required support from two-thirds of a Democratic-controlled chamber, was doomed when two Republicans joined Democrats to strike down the measure’s first vote in the House. It was doomed when the second attempt passed the next week by one Republican vote.

And it was doomed when the 100 senators were sworn in as jurors on Wednesday in the first impeachment trial of a cabinet member since 1876.

Senate Republicans, led by a group of hard-line conservatives, including Kansas’ Roger Marshall and Missouri’s Eric Schmitt, pushed forward anyway, arguing for a full trial as Democrats immediately moved to dismiss the articles of impeachment.

Within four hours, the Senate voted to dismiss both articles of impeachment without either side presenting evidence. The votes fell largely on party lines. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, voted present on the motion to dismiss the first article of impeachment, but voted against the second motion.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, a Missouri Republican, was the first Republican to offer an objection to Schumer’s effort.

“I will not assist Sen. Schumer in setting our constitution ablaze,” Schmitt said, in a brief speech his staff immediately clipped and posted on social media.

Schmitt and Marshall have been pushing for a full trial for more than a week. Along with a group of conservative hard-liners – Sens. Rick Scott, of Florida; Ted Cruz, of Texas; John Kennedy, of Louisiana; Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin; and Mike Lee of Florida – Scott has been saying that anything other than a full trial would set a bad precedent.

“The constitution actually calls for us to have a trial,” Schmitt told The Star last Wednesday. “It’s one of the things we’re supposed to do as a Senate. If he nukes the impeachment trial, there’s never going to be another impeachment trial.”

Those same hard-liners also helped kill a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform earlier this year, and arguments about the constitutional precedent of holding a trial quickly addressed the politics underscoring the impeachment.

The Senate, along with the presidency, is up for grabs in November, and the historic surge of illegal crossings at the southern border have been a top issue for Republicans in the early stage of the election.

Senate Democrats are hoping to hold on to seats that have increasingly voted for Republican candidates, like Montana and Ohio. The presidency will likely hinge on swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona.

The House impeached Mayorkas on two counts: that he violated the law by not enforcing laws to detain people who cross the southern border and that he had knowingly made false statements when he said the border was secure.

Republicans have been quick to tie the Biden administration’s policies to crimes committed by people who entered the country illegally, like the murder of Laken Riley, a Georgia nursing student who was killed while out for a jog.

Scott on Wednesday asked reporters to picture their parents, siblings and children.

“People just like your family have been raped, have been sold into human trafficking, have been murdered,” Scott said. “That’s happening.”

Marshall, the Kansas Republican, was quick to illustrate the potential political consequences of the trial.

“I certainly just hope that the folks in states like Montana and Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada are paying attention,” Marshall said Wednesday. “They have an opportunity to reach out to their senator and ask them to have an impeachment trial. If they don’t then we need to hold them accountable in November.”

Democrats, too, have been calling the impeachment trial a political ploy, but for different reasons. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, called the impeachment a “partisan hit-job” and said he supported a quick dismissal of the charges.

“House Republicans waited nearly two months after voting to impeach Secretary Mayorkas to seek a trial in the Senate,” Reed said. “And during that time they actively blocked bipartisan border security fixes.”

Ultimately, only three House impeachment managers showed up for the trial. Mayorkas never formally announced a defense team.

Hard-liners have pledged to slow down an already glacial Senate if Democrats dismiss the charges without a full trial.

“Everything should be on the table,” Scott said. “This is ridiculous. We have families all over the country that have been devastated over this. And so we should take this very seriously and hold the Senate accountable for not doing its job.”

So far, most of the Senate Republican caucus has gone along. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican, penned a letter signed by 43 Republicans last week urging Schumer to hold a complete trial.