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Senate conservatives pressure McConnell to push for full Mayorkas impeachment trial

A group of Republican senators are putting the pressure on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to back a full impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In a letter to McConnell sent Tuesday by Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas) and 11 other GOP senators, the group argued it is “imperative” the Senate Republican Conference prepare to hold an impeachment trial for Mayorkas, who was impeached by the GOP-led House last week.

Citing multiple briefings by McConnell’s staff, the lawmakers argued Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Democrats intend to table both articles of impeachment.

“This is an action rarely contemplated and never taken by the U.S. Senate in the history of our Republic,” the lawmakers wrote, adding later, “We call on you to join us in our efforts to jettison this approach by Democrats to shirk their Constitutional duty, ensure that the Senate conducts a proper trial and that every Senator, Republican and Democrat, adjudicates this matter when the Senate returns.”

McConnell’s office declined to comment on the letter.

Republicans in the Senate have been divided over the Mayorkas impeachment, with a fair number in McConnell’s conference signaling they do not want to go forward with the matter.

A dismissal of the articles of impeachment would force Democrats to vote to get rid of the charges against Mayorkas without a trial. To avoid this position for Democrats in tough Senate races, Schumer could also refer the matter to committee, effectively killing the process.

Schumer’s office said last week the chamber would take up the articles when it returns from recess Feb. 26. The Hill reached out to his office for further comment Tuesday.

If a full impeachment trial comes to fruition, a conviction of Mayorkas in the Democratic-led Senate is unlikely, as impeachment convictions require a two-thirds majority vote.

Mayorkas became the first Cabinet official to be impeached since the 1870s in last Tuesday’s 214-213 vote in the House, which followed an initial vote that failed the previous week.

GOP members in the lower chamber accused Mayorkas of a “willful and systematic refusal to comply with the law.” Members claimed he violated immigration laws by failing to detain enough migrants.

The impeachment also accuses Mayorkas of a “breach of public trust,” based in part on misleading claims about his interactions with Congress and his response to subpoenas from the House Homeland Security Committee.

Various immigration law experts told The Hill earlier this month they believed Mayorkas did not violate any laws and noted that no administration has ever detained all migrants.

Cruz suggested Sunday that the situation provides an opportunity for the GOP leadership in the Senate to push back against criticism of the conference.

“And I got to say, look, if Republican leadership in the Senate doesn’t like the criticism, here’s an opportunity to demonstrate some backbone. They could stand up and say, ‘Let’s have a trial.’ They can stand up and say, ‘You cannot refuse to even follow the constitutional process for impeachment. You can’t dodge responsibility,’” Cruz said Sunday in an interview with Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

The other GOP signatures on Tuesday’s letter to McConnell included Sens. Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Rick Scott (Fla.), 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.).

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