Republican efforts to impeach President Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, and remove him from office are at best a silly waste of time. At worst, they’ll strengthen the precedent by which impeachment is used by each political party to attempt to destroy members of the opposition.
Republican efforts to impeach and remove Mayorkas reflect their frustration with President Biden’s immigration policies in general and specifically with his failure to secure the border. And there’s no doubt about it: Biden is at fault here. At the beginning of his term, he rescinded former President Trump’s border security policies. Now, as illegals continue to flood across the border, he says he wants to strengthen border security but bleats that he can’t because congressional Republicans won’t give him the money to do so. Pathetic.
Yet Republican attempts to remove Mayorkas are doomed to failure. It is by no means certain that the House of Representatives, with a razor-thin GOP majority, will actually vote to impeach Mayorkas. After all, the defection of just a small handful of Republicans from purple districts will defeat the effort and save Mayorkas. And even if Mayorkas is impeached by the House and sent to the Senate for trial, the possibility of GOP success there is vanishingly slight, given that it would require a two-thirds vote in the Democratically dominated Senate to convict and thereby remove Mayorkas from office. The votes to convict and remove Mayorkas will simply not be there. Moreover, even if Mayorkas were to be removed, Biden would no doubt replace him with another Secretary who would continue to implement the same policies.
But while Republican efforts to remove Mayorkas will fail to change either personnel or policies, they will strengthen the precedent of weaponizing impeachment to achieve political ends through the politics of personal destruction.
The Constitution says impeachment may be used to remove executives and judges believed to be guilty of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But former President Gerald Ford, when he was Republican leader of the House and pushing for the impeachment of a Supreme Court justice, said, “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” The courts have never repudiated that position.
In the Mayorkas case, there is no evidence that he is guilty of treason, bribery, or any other crime. To the contrary, he’s “guilty” of nothing other than faithfully implementing President Biden’s policies. But according to the “Ford Rule,” that would be sufficient ground for impeachment if a House majority were to say so.
And by the same token House Democrats, if in the majority, could declare the actions of a member of a member of a future Republican president’s cabinet to be impeachable should they decide to do so. Indeed, just as some House Republicans in the fall of 2020 were beginning to discuss the possible impeachment of Biden even before he was elected president, so some House Democrats are threatening to impeach Republican cabinet members as soon as possible.
If the crisis on our southern border is as bad as congressional Republicans say it is, then their most responsible course of action now is to try to work with Democrats to solve it. Failing to do so, they will at least have a solid issue with which to defeat Biden in November. But impeaching Mayorkas will do nothing other than divert time and energy from finding real solutions to real problems, while encouraging congressional Democrats to lay in wait to ambush Republican officeholders in the future.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.