House Republicans are close to taking rare action to fire DHS Secretary Mayorkas

Highlights of the story

Republicans are investigating DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas' handling of the border.

GOP lawmakers plan to test whether to impeach the mayor this week.

Some legal scholars have poured cold water on the GOP's legal arguments.



CNN

House Republicans will hold their articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, moving closer to taking the rare step of impeaching a Cabinet official.

The House Homeland Security Committee will mark its decision by saying Mayorkas committed more crimes and misdemeanors for his handling of the southern border, though many constitutional experts said the evidence did not meet that high bar.

The controversial move would make Mayorkas the first cabinet secretary to be sacked in 150 years.

The impeachment effort comes as House Republicans face pressure from their base to hold the Biden administration accountable on a key campaign issue: the border.

Since Republicans regained the House majority, they have been investigating Mayorkas' handling of the border, and their impeachment inquiry has moved rapidly in the new year. House Speaker Mike Johnson has promised to quickly move articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the floor and has signaled his rejection of a bipartisan deal being negotiated in the Senate to address border policies.

While senior House Republicans believe they have the support to fire the DHS secretary, they can only lose two Their low majority votes. Republicans are planning a whip test this week to take the temperature of the convention, a GOP source told CNN.

House GOP Whip Tom Emmer told CNN ahead of the markup that he was counting the votes, but added: “We've got to get it done. I mean, what he's done is disgusting.

House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green of Tennessee has been meeting with some of the remaining GOP holdouts, such as Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, and has made several references to Mayorkas in recent weeks, according to GOP sources. Green made his case to senior Republicans during a closed-door meeting Monday night, later telling CNN that “nobody had any questions or disagreements.”

In a sign that momentum is building for the effort, GOP swing district Rep. Dan Bacon said he would vote to impeach the mayor. But Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, another moderate House Republican lawmaker, was less certain.

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“I want to hear all the arguments for it. I understand there is a fundamental support for it, and I want to fully understand it,” Newhouse said.

Prior to the markup, Green outlined his case for why Mayorkas should be indicted.

“These articles present a clear, compelling and irrefutable case for the impeachment of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas,” Green said in a statement to CNN. “He has deliberately and systematically refused to comply with immigration laws enacted by Congress. He has knowingly broken the public trust by making false statements to Congress and the American people, and obstructing congressional oversight of his department.”

Green argued that Mayorkas' “willful and systematic refusal to comply with the law” and “violation of the public trust” amounted to indictable offenses of high felonies and misdemeanors. Green said Mayorkas “willfully violated” his parole authority, “refused to comply” with detention orders, and lied about DHS having “operational control” of the border. He Quoted Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said in light of the Supreme Court's ruling that states cannot challenge federal immigration law, they can “use weapons of inter-branch warfare,” including impeachment.

But various legal scholars have poured cold water on the legal arguments Republicans are using to support their impeachment bid.

Ross Garber, a Tulane law professor who has represented several Republican officials both for prosecution and defense in impeachment cases, told CNN that House Republicans have not presented evidence of impeachable crimes.

“I think what House Republicans are insisting is that Secretary Mayorkas is guilty of mismanagement,” Ross said. “At least as currently constructed, the charges do not rise to the level of a high felony or a misdemeanor.”

Republican Party leader George W. Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, who served under Bush, A A recent op-ed“I can say with confidence that for all the House Homeland Security Committee investigations — of a former federal judge, a US attorney and an assistant attorney general — they have failed to produce evidence that meets the bar.”

Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, who was called by Republicans to testify at the hearings, said“There is no current evidence that he was corrupt or committed any impeachable crime,” the 25 law professors wrote. An open letter The impeachment of Mayorca was “completely unconstitutional.”

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Despite outside voices, a growing number of House Republicans, including House GOP leadership, support impeachment of Mayorkas.

Even if Mayorgas is impeached, it is unlikely that he will be impeached in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Mayorkas sent a letter to Green ahead of Tuesday's markup, explaining how he came to a career in public service and defending his record.

“My respect for law enforcement was instilled in me by my parents who brought me to this country to escape the Communist takeover of Cuba and give me the freedom and opportunity our democracy offers,” Mayorkas said.

“The problems with our broken and outdated immigration system are not new,” Mayorkas wrote, and called on Congress to provide a legislative solution to a “historically divisive issue.” He praised the bipartisan group of senators he worked with for their willingness to put aside their differences in an effort to find a border solution.

The Department of Homeland Security blasted House Republicans about its upcoming committee vote, calling it a “travesty” and “a distraction from other important national security priorities.”

In a memo, DHS blasted the impeachment inquiry, arguing that there was no overt crime or wrongdoing, that the investigation was “premeditated from the start” and that the process was “cynical and hypocritical.”

In response to Republicans blaming Mayorkas for the increase in border crossings, the DHS memo states, “This administration has removed, returned or deported more immigrants in three years than the previous administration did in four years.”

Addressing the claim that Mayorgas failed to maintain operational control of the border, DHS said, based on the way the law defines operational control, that “no administration has operational control.”

Democrats on the Homeland Security Committee have repeatedly criticized their Republican colleagues for their efforts to impeach the mayor. Earlier Tuesday, Democrats Published The report calls the GOP effort “a sham.”

“Conspicuously missing from these articles is an actual allegation or a shred of evidence of more serious crimes or misdeeds — the constitutional standard for impeachment,” Rep. Penny Thompson, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement. Reply to Mayorkas articles of impeachment.

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The momentum to plan a swift impeachment of the cabinet secretary picked up steam this month as key swing-district Republicans expressed new openness to the idea amid a recent surge of immigrants at the southern border.

The focus on Mayorkas is a shift for the House GOP, which has set its sights on impeaching President Joe Biden as early as 2024. But the Biden investigation is moving along and many Republicans are still skeptical of impeaching the president, a senior Republican. As the border crisis becomes a defining campaign issue, I hope Mayorkas will be easier to target.

Instead of starting a formal impeachment inquiry with a legislative vote, the effort was carried out unilaterally by the Homeland Security Committee, as opposed to the House Judiciary Committee, where articles of impeachment are usually developed, though not constitutionally required.

“When a committee leader doesn't vote on regular order, it's a huge affront to the institution,” House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, said of how the Mayorgas impeachment process unfolded.

During the investigative phase, Homeland Security Committee Republicans conducted 10 hearings, issued five interim reports, and conducted 11 transcribed interviews with current and former Border Patrol agents. But since opening the inquiry, the GOP-led panel has held only two hearings and has decided to move forward with articles of impeachment without giving the secretary a chance to testify.

Republicans have called Mayorkas to testify at an impeachment hearing on January 18. But the DHS secretary said he would host members of the Mexican cabinet to discuss border enforcement, and he asked them to work with the committee on scheduling a different date, according to a letter obtained by CNN. .

Green said His team offered Mayorkas an “opportunity to appear,” but wrote that Mayorkas had testified before Congress more than any other Biden cabinet official, noting that Green had been before the committee seven times.

“No matter what actions you initiate, however baseless, my response to oversight requests will not be abandoned,” Mayorkas said.

CNN's Melanie Zanona and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.

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