Republicans are pushing for impeachment again. A new struggle to isolate the offensive line.

The fireworks in Congress on Wednesday came during a House Oversight Committee hearing that included a cameo appearance by Hunter Biden, who is heavily involved in the Republican impeachment inquiry into his father, and many cries.

But a more significant development may have occurred elsewhere on Capitol Hill, where House Republicans impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in what could be the Biden administration’s first substantive impeachment. Preparations were underway.

Not only would Mr. Mayorkas be the second Cabinet member ever to be impeached, Republicans offered an unusual rationale that Mr. Mayorkas deserved to be impeached for his failures in the line of duty.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark E. Greene (R-Tenn.) said in his opening statement: “The Founders planned not only to remove officials who engaged in criminal conduct, but also to impeach those who were guilty of such grave incompetence that their conduct endangered their fellow citizens.” It is a breach of trust and a neglect of one’s duties. ”

Rep. Nick Larota of New York assured the panel that he was not taking impeachment lightly, citing Mayorkas’ “genuine failures and willful dereliction of duty” that warranted his impeachment.

In fact, the topic of the hearings was not about specific alleged felonies or misdemeanors (the standard for impeachment under the Constitution), but about how Secretary Mayorkas’ failed leadership affected each state. Ta.

To be clear, Republican lawmakers have brought up more specific allegations of wrongdoing.

Some claim Mayorkas lied in 2022 testimony when he claimed his department had “operational control” of the border. Republicans point out that the definition of the term in the 2006 law does not literally require illegally crossing the border. Mr. Mayorkas later testified that he did not refer to that standard.

Some accused Mayorkas of failing to enforce immigration laws, including failing to meet the absolute standards of the 2006 law. Immigration experts have testified that a lack of resources and the scope of the border issue make it impossible to enforce all of these laws and fully secure the border.

But much of the hearing focused on the outcome of Mayorkas’ actions, not his actions.

Several Republicans have hinted that the toll of the fentanyl crisis means Mayorkas meets the criteria for impeachment.

Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R-Texas) told Democratic witness and constitutional law professor Frank O. Is it considered a felony?” he asked.

“I do not know There is no evidence whatsoever that Commissioner Mayorkas sold fentanyl,” Bowman responded.

After a similar exchange about sexual slavery, Luttrell argued that Mayorkas “has failed in the past few years and we need someone else.”

Rep. Carlos A. Jimenez (R-Florida) said Bowman said impeachment was “very serious in nature” and targeted crimes that “corrupt or subvert governmental processes or constitutional order.” He pointed out that he testified that there was..

“Do you believe in death? 200,000 Americans die from fentanyl overdose – is that really that serious? ” Jimenez asked.

These were crystalline moments. Mr. Bowman’s testimony was about the seriousness of the impeachment charges. The question concerned the severity of the crisis.

The actual criteria for impeachable offenses are the subject of much academic debate.

Greene pointed to academics at the conservative Heritage Foundation who advocated for Mayorkas’ impeachment, arguing that a “neglect of duty or conduct contrary to duty” is sufficient.

However, this is not necessarily a consensus view. Jonathan Turley, a key Republican witness in impeachment proceedings involving both Donald Trump and President Biden in recent years, wrote a column this week arguing against impeaching Mayorkas.

“Being bad at your job is not an impeachable offense. It can even be really bad. Even Mayorkas’ level of badness,” Turley wrote, making it clear that he is not a fan of Mayorkas. “If that were the case, he would be just the latest in a long line of ministers to march to Parliament calling for a constitutional repeal.”

Turley said the framers of the Constitution rejected terms like “maladministration” as impeachable offenses because such standards are broad. He said impeaching Mayorkas risks “turning policy disagreements with Cabinet members into high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Greene rejected that argument at the end of Wednesday’s hearing, saying, “insisting on enforcing laws that Congress wrote is not a policy difference.”

It’s hard to know exactly how slippery that slope will be. What is clear is that this represents an evolution of the issue for Republicans. During Trump’s first impeachment, Republicans often suggested that impeachment should focus on actual statutory offenses, not just specific crimes.

Perhaps Republicans will focus on specific crimes as the case progresses. But the subject matter of Wednesday’s hearing, along with Republicans’ unspecified and speculative impeachment inquiry into Biden, suggests they are less enthusiastic about impeachment.

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