As the news emerged Wednesday that House Republicans plan to move ahead with impeachment proceedings against him, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reacted on live TV.
Mayorkas appeared on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” and as his segment was ending, co-anchor Willie Geist broke the news about a report that the House was expected to launch a full impeachment inquiry against him.
Reading a story published Wednesday by Punchbowl News, he told Mayorkas, “‘The House Homeland Security Committee is formally moving ahead with impeachment proceedings’ against you, with the hearing being held a week from today.”
“What’s your reaction?” he asked.
Mayorkas didn’t flinch visibly, but he might have sounded a little shaky trying to defend himself.
“You mentioned earlier in our conversation that I joined the bipartisan group of senators to work on legislative solutions to a broken immigration system,” Mayorkas said.
“I was on the Hill yesterday to provide technical advice in those ongoing negotiations. Before I hit the Hill, I was in the office working on solutions. After my visit to the Hill, I was back in my office, working on solutions. That’s what we do in the Department of Homeland Security. That’s what this administration is focused on: Solutions to problems,” he said.
Asked if he would cooperate with the hearings, Mayorkas replied, “I most certainly will and I will continue to do my work as well.”
Republican Rep. Mark Green Tennessee, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee said the panel found enough evidence to impeach Mayorkas, according to Punchbowl News.
“Our investigation made clear that this crisis finds its foundation in Secretary Mayorkas’ decision-making and refusal to enforce the laws passed by Congress, and that his failure to fulfill his oath of office demands accountability,” Green said in a statement.
“The bipartisan House vote in November to refer articles of impeachment to my Committee only served to highlight the importance of our taking up the impeachment process – which is what we will begin doing next Wednesday,” he said.
The impeachment process for a Cabinet official is the same as for a president. If the full House votes for impeachment, the rough equivalent of an indictment, a trial in the Senate follows. Republicans have a razor’s-edge margin in the House, but Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, making the removal of Mayorkas — or any Democrat — from office unlikely.
According to a report in The Hill in October, the only Cabinet-level impeachment process in American history took place in 1876, when Congress targeted Secretary of War William Belknap, who resigned.
According to Punchbowl News, the first impeachment hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 10 and is titled “Havoc in the Heartland: How Secretary Mayorkas’ Failed Leadership Has Impacted the States.”
The impact in one state was evident on Monday when Republican Rep. Mike Flood of Nebraska told Omaha’s KETV-TV that the immigration crisis had “turned every town in Nebraska into a border town. We’re seeing more fentanyl we’re seeing more dangerous drugs.”
“We’re seeing weapons. We’re seeing criminals that are making their way across the border when we don’t know who. 1.7 million of those getaways are there. They’ve avoided the U.S. Border Patrol and they’re in our country,” he said, referring to illegal immigrants the Border Patrol knows entered the country but were not apprehended.
Green told Fox News that for “almost three years, the American people have demanded an end to the unprecedented crisis at the Southwest border, and they have also rightly called for Congress to hold accountable those responsible.”
A statement from the Department of Homeland Security said House Republicans are “pursuing a baseless political exercise that has been rejected by members of both parties and already failed on a bipartisan vote,” according to CNN.
“There is no valid basis to impeach Secretary Mayorkas, as senior members of the House majority have attested, and this extreme impeachment push is a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities,” DHS representative Mia Ehrenberg said.