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Senate kills Mayorkas impeachment trial, votes both articles unconstitutional

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(WASHINGTON) — The Senate on Wednesday dismissed both impeachment articles against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, deeming them “unconstitutional.”

The trial against Mayorkas, long a target of Republican criticism over his handling of immigration policy and the southern border, lasted just three hours after senators were sworn in as jurors.

The votes to dismiss both articles and adjourn the trial were along party lines, 51-49.

House Republicans, back in February, approved two articles over what they called Mayorkas’ failed leadership. The first article alleged Mayorkas willfully and systemically refused to comply with the law on immigration policy and the second accused him of breaching public trust. The Cabinet secretary, the first to be impeached in nearly 150 years, had called both allegations “baseless.”

Leading up to the trial, Republicans were demanding a thorough consideration of the articles of impeachment take place while Democrats said they would seek to dismiss them quickly.

Such back-and-forth was apparent as proceedings kicked off in the Senate after lawmakers were sworn in as jurors.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., first asked for unanimous consent on a plan that would have allowed for debate time and for Republicans to raise various points of order before Democrats moved toward a motion to dismiss the charges.

Republicans quickly objected.

“Never before in the history of our republic has the Senate dismissed or tabled articles of impeachment when the impeached individual was alive and had not resigned,” Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., said as he rose to reject what Schumer proposed.

“I will not assist Senator Schumer in setting our Constitution ablaze and bulldozing 200 years of precedent,” Schmitt added.

Schumer responded that the first of the articles of impeachment “does not allege conduct that rises to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor” and “therefore is unconstitutional.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tried to aside Schumer’s motion that the first article of impeachment against Mayorkas is unconstitutional.

“Our colleagues know that we are obligated to take these proceedings seriously,” McConnell said. “This is what our oath prescribes. It is what the history and precedent require and I would urge each of our colleagues to consider that this is what our framers actually envisioned.”

McConnell added, “This process must not be abused, it must not be short circuited. History will not judge this moment well.”

Republican senators tried several times to move into a closed session or adjourn the court of impeachment, but such efforts failed along party lines.

“The Senate Majority Leader has argued that Secretary Mayorkas’ defiance of federal immigration law and active aiding and abetting of the worst illegal alien invasion in American history does not constitute a high crime or misdemeanor,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said as he tried to move debate behind closed doors.

“He has presented no argument on that question. He has presented no briefing on that question … the only rational way to resolve this question is actually to debate it, to consider the Constitution and consider the law,” Cruz added.

All senators present for Wednesday’s proceedings were seated at their desks. At some points, lawmakers could be seen handing out candy or huddling in groups for conversation.

Mayorkas previously called the allegations “false” and “politically motivated.” Asked about the proceedings earlier Wednesday as the department rolled out a new campaign to child exploitation, the secretary said he was focused on his work.

“The Senate is going to do what the Senate considers to be appropriate as that proceeds,” Mayorkas said. “I’m here in New York City on Wednesday morning, fighting online child sexual exploitation and abuse. We are focused on our mission. Our mission is an imperative to keep everyone safe and secure.”

ABC News’ Juhi Doshi contributed to this report.

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