House GOP Impeaches DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — Just To Help Trump

Republicans know it's a political stunt. But if they can help Trump look tough on border security ahead of the presidential election, who cares!

House Republicans voted Tuesday to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ― not for any legitimate reason, but because they really want to help Donald Trump look tough on immigration issues ahead of the November presidential election.

The final vote was 214 to 213. A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the effort: Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Mike Gallagher (Wis.).

The only other time Congress has impeached a cabinet secretary was in 1876, when it impeached Secretary of War William Belknap for allegedly taking bribes.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) tried to impeach Mayorkas last week, but in a humiliating misstep, he botched the math and fell one vote short of pulling it off. He held the vote again Tuesday, when he knew that Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) would be back in town after receiving cancer treatments and able to provide the GOP with an extra vote.

Tuesday’s vote was just as tight, though, and four lawmakers ― two Democrats and two Republicans ― missed it. They were Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), Brian Mast (R-Fla) and Maria Salazar (R-Fla.).

Three of the four publicly said why they missed the vote. Chu said she tested positive for COVID. Frankel was sidelined by a delayed flight. So was Mast.

But Salazar didn’t say anything. HuffPost searched her social media posts and her House website for a statement, but nothing came up.

Considering how tight this vote was, Salazar’s absence and subsequent silence was curious given that she’s flip-flopped on the issue of impeachment. The Florida Republican voted last week to impeach Mayorkas, but last year she mocked the idea of doing this, telling The Washington Post a vote like this “doesn’t do anything” to address border issues.

Some of Salazar’s constituents were pressuring the GOP not to hold an impeachment vote, too. A group of prominent Miami-based Cuban Americans last month publicly urged House Republicans not to go after Mayorkas, who was born in Havana and who they said “has a deep love for the United States,” because the effort was unconstitutional.

Salazar’s office told HuffPost on Wednesday that the congresswoman missed the vote “due to a medical procedure.”

“As far as the vote goes, Congresswoman Salazar is on record for previously voting to impeach Secretary Mayorkas,” her office said in a statement. “Her position has not changed.”

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) missed the House vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) missed the House vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
via Associated Press

The GOP’s two articles of impeachment accuse Mayorkas of “willful” refusal to comply with immigration laws, and of breaching public trust. They’re essentially blaming him for the government failing to adequately manage a surge in migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The absurdity of their effort is that Republicans haven’t produced any evidence that Mayorkas has committed crimes, never mind crimes that meet the threshold for impeachable offenses. The Constitution spells out that impeachment is reserved for rare instances of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” like bribery or treason.

Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), who voted to impeach Mayorkas, flat out admitted hours earlier that Republicans were using impeachment as a public relations stunt.

“It needs action,” Hill said on Fox News, on the need to tighten border security. “This is what’s disappointing to people. That’s why Mayorkas is going to pay this public relations price by being impeached.”

Beyond that, GOP lawmakers know that the real solution to problems at the border is passing bipartisan immigration reform, which they have failed to do for decades.

The Senate actually unveiled a bipartisan borden deal last month that would have addressed the very thing that Republicans have been demanding action on for months: It would have reduced record-high levels of border crossings and dramatically scaled back the country’s asylum system.

But then Trump screwed it all up. He directly intervened in Senate negotiations and ordered the GOP not to support any bipartisan border bills because they would give President Joe Biden a win ahead of the November presidential election.

Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 6 as House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) looks on.
Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 6 as House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) looks on.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Caught between angering Trump and looking like they haven’t done anything to address the same border concerns they’ve been demanding action on for months, House Republicans settled on going after Mayorkas, a Cabinet secretary charged with carrying out current immigration laws.

Their impeachment articles aren’t going anywhere in the Senate, where even Republicans have mocked their House counterparts for spending time on this stunt.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) called it “the dumbest exercise and use of time.”

“What’s rich to me is the speaker says the [border] bill in the Senate is ... dead on arrival,” Cramer told Capitol Hill reporters earlier this month. “And then they proceed with impeaching a Cabinet secretary, which is obviously dead on arrival.”

Moments after the impeachment vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ripped the effort as “a new low” for House Republicans.

“This sham impeachment effort is another embarrassment for House Republicans,” Schumer said in a statement. “The one and only reason for this impeachment is for Speaker Johnson to further appease Donald Trump.”

Still, the Senate must at least receive the impeachment articles and formally begin a trial. Schumer’s office said that senators will be sworn in as jurors when the Senate returns from recess on Feb. 26, and that President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will preside over the chamber. Democrats could move to dismiss the articles soon after with a simple majority vote.

President Joe Biden also condemned GOP lawmakers for their stunt.

“History will not look kindly on House Republicans for their blatant act of unconstitutional partisanship that has targeted an honorable public servant in order to play petty political games,” Biden said in a statement.

“Instead of staging political stunts like this, Republicans with genuine concerns about the border should want Congress to deliver more border resources and stronger border security,” said the president. “Congress needs to act to give me, Secretary Mayorkas, and my administration the tools and resources needed to address the situation at the border.”


What's Hot