McConnell, Thune call for full Senate trial of Mayorkas

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Whip John Thune (S.D.), the two top-ranking Senate Republican leaders, called Tuesday for the Senate to conduct a full trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, which Senate conservatives had demanded.

Thune, who is angling to one day succeed McConnell as GOP leader, demanded Tuesday that the Senate hold a full trial over the impeachment charges passed by the House against Mayorkas.

“The House of Representatives has determined that Secretary Mayorkas has committed impeachable offenses. That issue will come before the United States Senate. I believe the Senate needs to hold a trial,” Thune announced at the weekly Senate GOP leadership press conference.

“I’m going to make the argument — and I’m sure the Democrats will try to dismiss it — that we ought to be having a trial, conducting a trial of the United States Senate to determine whether these are impeachable offenses,” Thune added.

McConnell later said he agreed with Thune that the Senate should hold a trial, even though earlier this month he didn’t appear to have a strong opinion on the matter.

“I think that would be the best way forward,” he said when asked about holding a Senate floor trial for Mayorkas.

He didn’t express a strong view on the matter when asked about the House-passed impeachment charges during an interview with The Hill on Feb. 14.

“In terms of how it’s going to be handled, that would be up to Schumer,” he said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Some Senate Republicans earlier this year questioned whether holding an impeachment trial would be the best use of their time.

In late January, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said an impeachment trial would be a “detour from the important work that’s going on.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate GOP leadership team, said last month “we’ve got so many things to do” and observed: “I don’t think impeachment was something intended to be brought up every three months or every two months.”

Senate conservatives led by Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have put pressure on Senate GOP leaders in recent days to push for a full trial of Mayorkas.

Lee led a letter to McConnell dated Feb. 20 calling on him to “ensure that the Senate conducts a proper trial, and that every senator, Republican and Democratic, adjudicates this matter when the Senate returns.”

The letter, which was signed by Scott and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), JD Vance (Ohio), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Ted Budd (N.C.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), argued it would be unacceptable for the Senate to vote to immediately dismiss the two impeachment charges.

“According to multiple briefings by your staff, Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Democrats intend to dispense with the articles of impeachment by simply tabling both individually,” they wrote. “This is an action rarely contemplated and never taken by the U.S. Senate in the history of our Republic.”

Schumer declined to say Tuesday how he would handle the impeachment charges.

“Look, as I’ve said, the impeachment of Mayorkas is absurd. There’s not one drop of evidence that leads to any kind of charge of impeachment, and we’re going to handle it in the best way possible,” he said.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

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