Johnson’s uncertain impeachment bet

Speaker Mike Johnson is on the verge of making a daring move by pursuing the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

GOP leaders are expressing confidence that they will have enough votes to impeach Mayorkas in a Tuesday vote. However, they can only afford to lose three Republicans if all members are present. Despite this, they still face resistance from several holdouts, including Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), who have stated that they will vote against impeachment. Some leadership allies are cautioning that the vote could be canceled at the last minute.

In a brief interview, Buck expressed his perspective on the matter, stating that merely having a policy difference, a bad administrator, or incompetence should not be considered sufficient grounds for dismissal. He further emphasized that if incompetence were to be the standard, there would be a scarcity of individuals remaining in Congress.

If Johnson and his leadership team manage to garner enough votes to advocate for the removal of Mayorkas, it would be seen as a minor victory in appeasing their conservative base. However, if they fail, it would only add to the list of grievances conservatives have against Republican leaders for their perceived lack of accomplishments. This failure could significantly undermine their chances of success in their more crucial endeavor to impeach President Joe Biden.

The margin for error for Republicans may worsen as a result of the upcoming special election for expelled GOP Rep. George Santos’ seat. If Democrats win the seat, Johnson would only be able to afford losing a maximum of two Republicans on any legislation opposed by Democrats. This would create a challenging situation in a chamber where absences are frequent.

House Republicans have been working diligently for months to garner support within the GOP for the impeachment of a Cabinet secretary, an unprecedented move since 1876. Johnson, along with other leaders and Homeland Security Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.), have been engaging in private discussions with a few undecided members, who have remained discreet about their inclinations.

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According to Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), a conservative serving on the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, some of his fellow GOP colleagues may have set an unrealistic standard for what constitutes an impeachable offense. Additionally, they may have unrealistic expectations regarding the type of evidence that investigators can produce against Biden.

According to him, there are individuals who are hesitant when it comes to impeachment due to the excessive politicization that has occurred in the past. These individuals have become conditioned to view impeachment as a highly controversial and contentious topic.

In a statement released shortly before the vote on Tuesday, McClintock declared his decision to vote against impeaching Mayorkas. He asserted that the most effective way to address the border invasion issue is to replace the Biden administration through democratic means. McClintock argued that simply replacing one leftist with another would be an unrealistic solution that fails to address the underlying problem and only serves to excuse President Biden’s responsibility. Additionally, he expressed concerns about the constitutional implications of expanding the scope of impeachment, cautioning that such actions could have repercussions for Republicans in the future.

In highlighting the close nature of the vote, Green has been reaching out to Democrats, even though they are anticipated to vote against impeachment. It is expected that Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) will return to Washington after recuperating from a car accident, while Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) is currently undergoing remote treatment for blood cancer.

If all Democrats show up on Tuesday and both Buck and McClintock vote with them, Republican leaders will have absolutely no margin for error.

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According to Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), the uncertainty of having a two-vote majority leaves doubts about their ability to pass any legislation.

As of Monday afternoon, there are still a few holdouts that need to be convinced, including Representatives Patrick McHenry, Brian Fitzpatrick, David Joyce, and Maria Salazar. Both Green and GOP leaders have been making increased efforts to persuade these members, alleging that Mayorkas has violated the public’s trust and consistently refused to comply with the law.

In a statement shared exclusively with POLITICO, Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), another swing vote on the Mayorkas effort, expressed his support for articles of impeachment if they are brought to the floor. Newhouse stated, “Based on the evidence I have seen, I will support them.”

As Republicans criticize Mayorkas for his handling of the border situation, Johnson is actively rejecting the Senate’s bipartisan agreement to enhance border security. Instead, he urges Biden to utilize his existing executive powers to address the increasing number of migrants. Although the bill faces challenges in the Senate, Johnson firmly believes that it would be futile even if it manages to pass through the Capitol.

When asked about impeaching Mayorkas while simultaneously criticizing the border bill, Johnson emphasized that it is our duty under the Constitution to handle the impeachment proceedings in the manner we have been doing so far, as he addressed reporters on Monday.

The impeachment effort against Mayorkas has faced increasing criticism from Republican-aligned pundits and constitutional experts, including notable figures from former President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team. Alan Dershowitz, who defended Trump during his initial trial, recently stated that Mayorkas did not engage in bribery, treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors.

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In a recent letter to the House GOP, the DHS secretary refuted the allegations, dismissing them as “false,” “baseless,” and “inaccurate.” He also highlighted his track record in leading the department and emphasized its commitment to complying with lawmakers’ public hearings and document requests.

Even if House Republicans succeed in impeaching Mayorkas on Tuesday, it is highly likely that the Senate will swiftly dismiss it. GOP senators anticipate that Democrats will avoid a trial by either sending the articles to committee or seeking a prompt dismissal.

The outcome of Tuesday’s vote will serve as a gauge for Republicans’ prospects in pursuing their larger goal of impeaching Biden.

A significant number of House Republicans are hesitant to support the impeachment of the president, unlike their stance on Mayorkas. These GOP lawmakers require concrete evidence that directly connects President Biden’s actions, both during his time as president and vice president, to his family’s business dealings.

GOP investigators are planning to reach a formal decision on whether to pursue impeachment articles against Biden. They will hold a closed-door meeting with his son, Hunter Biden, at the end of the month.

Conservatives have gathered significant evidence against Biden, but they also recognize that a few “no” votes can derail any impeachment effort. Moreover, they express concern that some of their colleagues may have unrealistic expectations regarding the level of clarity required for the evidence.

When questioned about whether some GOP colleagues had set a high bar for impeaching Biden, Representative Ben Cline (R-Va.) humorously suggested addressing that inquiry to Ken Buck and Tom McClintock.

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