Republicans controlled the Senate during President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., allowed a full Senate trial in public view even though he would vote that Trump wasn’t guilty of the House’s charges.  

Today, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., faces a similar choice with the House’s impeachment Feb. 13 of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Schumer could bury the matter in committee, dismiss the two articles of impeachment by a majority vote, or hold a Senate trial in public as McConnell did with Trump’s first impeachment. 

“Democrats will do anything to avoid having to defend Mayorkas’ record, so Chuck Schumer is trying to break over 200 years of Senate precedent by tabling the impeachment trial and denying the American people the chance to hear the facts about Biden’s border policy,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told The Daily Signal. 

“The Constitution grants the Senate ‘the sole power to try all impeachments,’ and it would be a travesty for the Senate to retreat from its constitutional duty,” Cruz said. 

Republican lawmakers argue that Mayorkas, appointed by President Joe Biden as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and in that office since February 2021, should be removed after presiding over a flood of millions of illegal aliens into the United States.

Cruz joined Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and 11 other GOP senators in sending a letter this week to McConnell, now Senate minority leader, urging him to “ensure that the Senate conducts a proper trial” after the House’s two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas reach the Senate.

“Impeaching Alejandro Mayorkas was the right thing to do,” Cruz told The Daily Signal. “Hand in hand with the cartels, he has aided and abetted the criminal invasion of the United States by tens of millions of illegal aliens. If the Senate were capable of neutrally evaluating the evidence of Mayorkas’ failure to enforce our border laws, he would be convicted 100 to zero.”

The House’s first article of impeachment alleges that the homeland security secretary failed to secure America’s borders and enforce immigration laws, instead executing policies that incentivize illegal immigration. The second article contends that Mayorkas is in breach of the public trust and knowingly made false statements to Congress and the American people. 

Mayorkas is the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached since 1876.

GOP Senators Calling for Full Trail

Fellow Senate Republicans who signed Cruz and Lee’s letter urging McConnell to ensure a “proper trial” of Mayorkas are Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Rick Scott of Florida, Eric Schmitt and Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, JD Vance of Ohio, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Mike Braun of Indiana, Ted Budd of North Carolina, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. 

“The Biden border crisis is the worst immigration crisis in American history—and it’s not even close,” Tuberville told The Daily Signal. “This did not happen by accident, but by choice.  Secretary Mayorkas blindly followed the president’s orders and willfully refused to faithfully execute the laws of this country, as the Constitution requires, and for that, he deserves to be impeached.  We ought to remove him from office as soon as possible.”

The Daily Signal asked the offices of all 49 Senate Republicans whether they will demand Senate leadership hold a full trial on the House’s charges against Mayorkas.

In addition to the 13 signers of the letter to McConnell, these Senate Republicans responded, indicating they support a trial: John Cornyn of Texas, Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Katie Britt of Alabama, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

“Sen. Schumer will do everything he can to sweep this under the rug,” Cornyn said. “I believe that the House acted appropriately, and Secretary Mayorkas should be impeached because he lied under oath by saying the border is secure.” 

A spokesperson for South Carolina’s Scott told The Daily Signal that “accountability must be a priority” during the crisis along the southern border. Capito’s office also indicated her desire to examine the articles of impeachment in a trial.  

The Senate “should fulfill its constitutional charge and hold a proper trial in full view of the public,” Britt said. “The Biden administration cannot sweep the devastating consequences of its mass migration agenda under the rug.” 

What’s Next

As Senate minority leader, McConnell may have some sway over Schumer’s decision, but ultimately, it is up to Schumer to decide whether the Senate will hold a full impeachment trial for Mayorkas.

If Schumer doesn’t call for a trial, he could refer the two articles of impeachment to a Senate committee and allow the matter to die there. Or, the impeachment articles could be dismissed altogether by a majority vote.

The Daily Signal asked Schumer’s office whether he plans to hold a full trial, but didn’t receive a response.

“The Senate has a constitutional obligation to conduct a thorough trial which examines the secretary’s willful and repeated refusal to uphold the law,” Lummis said, adding: “I urge Republican leadership not to stand idly by as Sen. Schumer attempts to sweep this dereliction of duty under the rug.” 

Braun noted rumors that Schumer would seek to put a Mayorkas impeachment trial “in a desk drawer by creating and referring the proceedings to a special committee.”

The Senate is scheduled to return to Washington on Feb. 26. 

“As United States senators, we have a constitutional duty to conduct a proper trial,” Budd said. “To simply dismiss the articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas without doing so would be a serious dereliction of duty on the part of Leader Schumer and Senate Democrats.” 

If Schumer does greenlight a Senate trial, it is unlikely that Mayorkas would be convicted and removed in the Democrat-controlled chamber, since removal requires a two-thirds majority vote. 

Vice President’s Role

Earlier this week, Florida’s Scott also sent a letter to Vice President Kamala Harris, urging her to “fulfill your constitutional duty to serve as the presiding officer of Secretary Mayorkas’ impeachment trial.” 

“When President Biden appointed you as the ‘border czar’ in early 2021, he tasked you with ‘stemming the migration to our southern border,’” Scott wrote to Harris, a Democrat who formerly represented California in the Senate, adding:

In accepting that appointment, you acknowledged a need ‘to deal with the root causes’ of the flows of illegal immigration across our southern border. As such, you should be keenly interested in learning whether a high-ranking member of your administration is one of those ‘root causes’ through his willful and persistent refusal to enforce our country’s immigration laws, frustrating the very core function of your role as President Biden’s ‘border czar.’

Harris’ office didn’t respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment before publication.