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Alejandro Mayorkas

Prospects dim for a full Senate Mayorkas trial

Senate GOP leaders on Tuesday endorsed a full impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, even as it appeared that the chamber is on track to bypass a trial entirely.

So far, moderate and red-state Democrats are supportive of a motion to dismiss the impeachment articles, and at least one GOP senator is warm to the idea. All it takes to skip a full trial is a simple majority Senate vote, meaning Democrats don’t even need Republicans as long as they stick together.

But for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his deputy, Minority Whip John Thune, the decision to call for a full trial keeps conservatives at bay. More than a dozen Senate conservatives signed onto a letter pressuring McConnell to do everything in his power to ensure the proceedings play out fully.

“I believe the Senate needs to hold a trial,” said Thune, who has expressed interest in becoming GOP leader. He added that the Senate needs to “determine whether these are impeachable offenses.” McConnell later echoed Thune’s view on the issue.

Next steps: It’s important to note that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hasn’t yet said how he intends to handle the matter. But Schumer reiterated on Tuesday that he sees the House’s impeachment effort against Mayorkas as “absurd.”

Some Republicans agree. At least one, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), indicated on Tuesday that he could support a motion to dismiss the articles. That would give Democrats a buffer in case one of their members opposes scrapping the trial.

In recent weeks, other Senate Republicans — including Thune — have questioned the wisdom of pursuing Mayorkas’ removal from office. Some GOP senators have said they’re worried that the impeachment process has become “weaponized” instead of an extraordinary sanction that is only used in the most serious of cases.

And others, like Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), have noted that even if Mayorkas is convicted and thrown out of office — which won’t happen — that does nothing to solve the myriad problems at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Timing in limbo: The House’s impeachment managers aren’t likely to even present the articles to the Senate until Congress gets past the ongoing government funding crisis.

Once the articles are presented, senators are sworn in as jurors in a court of impeachment. At that point, senators can offer a motion to dismiss the articles or to refer them to a trial committee. These would all be at a simple majority threshold.

— Andrew Desiderio

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