Senate Dems quickly shut down Mayorkas trial

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Senate Democrats quickly voted to adjourn the impeachment trial against Alejandro Mayorkas after deeming it unconstitutional — ending proceedings on Wednesday without any votes to convict or acquit.

The result was widely expected, but concludes months of House Republican efforts to target the Homeland Security secretary over the Biden administration’s border policies. In the Senate, floor time dedicated to the trial only totaled a few hours altogether; House impeachment managers delivered the articles on Tuesday afternoon.

Both parties believed the Mayorkas impeachment set a new precedent. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was determined to end any House practice to bog down the Senate with “frivolous” impeachment trials. But even centrist Republicans, who some Democrats believed might side with them to dismiss the trial, openly worried that Schumer had created a new norm for impeachments that are politically unfavorable for the majority.

“I think this was an embarrassment for the Senate today, and not in keeping with our constitutional role, regardless of how one may feel about the challenges and regardless of how one would choose to vote after listening to the evidence,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Democrats argued the dismissal shouldn’t become standard practice, but was an issue of legitimacy. By deeming the articles unconstitutional, in their view, the foundation for a trial was lost. Asked if that would hamper future impeachment trials, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) simply replied: “It shouldn’t hamper future credible impeachments.”

Votes on both articles mostly adhered to party lines, aside from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voting present on the first article, which alleged Mayorkas had engaged in “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law.” Senate Democrats had repeatedly cast the impeachment against Mayorkas as a sham, forecasting their ultimate decision to dispose of the trial on Wednesday.

Earlier in Wednesday’s proceedings, Schumer offered a deal to allow Senate Republicans some time to debate the articles and offer points of order, but Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) objected. Democratic leadership did still allow Republicans to make several motions on the floor, including delaying the trial, and each of which failed along party lines.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said he believed Democrats allowed those motions so Republicans could “let off some steam,” but that the whole process still “created a bad precedent.”

Because Schmitt rejected the Democrats’ deal, none of the GOP motions included time for debate and it severely limited the GOP’s ability to elongate the trial or make any arguments.

“There’s no question that had there been a fulsome debate and discussion that you could have seen several of us vote in in favor of dismissal,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Republicans are already planning their retaliation, particularly against vulnerable Democratic senators that voted to cut proceedings short. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), running for reelection in his red state, tops their list.

But Tester shrugged off a question about how his vote could impact his race, calling it a “political impeachment.”

“There’s all sorts of shit that people can use,” Tester said. “The fact of the matter is, Biden should be doing a better job, America should be doing a better job, but so should Congress.”

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