User’s Manual to what’s next now that the House impeached Mayorkas

The House has now impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Think of impeachment as an indictment. It’s up to the Senate to act as a "court" and judge whether the accused is guilty of the charges in a trial.

The impeachment of cabinet officials is rare. The House has now impeached multiple Presidents and federal judges. But only one cabinet secretary prior to Mayorkas. That was Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876. 

Don’t expect anything to start until late February or early March. The House will send the articles of impeachment plus the House "managers" over to the Senate to formally begin the trial.


"Impeachment managers" are House members who serve as prosecutors. They present the findings of the House before the Senate. Senators sit as jurors.

There is a bit of a ceremony to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate from the House and for the Senate to receive the articles. In this case, Acting Clerk of the House Kevin McCumber and House Sergeant at Arms William McFarland escort the articles of impeachment and House managers across the Capitol Rotunda to the Senate. The Senate gathers, usually with all senators sitting at their desks. Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson then receives the House entourage at the Senate door and reads the following proclamation to the Senate.

"All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Alejandro Nicholas Mayorkas."

The articles are then presented to the Senate and the managers are introduced. That is all they usually do on the first day of a Senate trial– although FOX was told the Senate might try to squeeze everything into one day.


Under Senate impeachment trial rule III, the body is supposed to wait until the next day to swear-in senators as jurors. But FOX is told that could happen on day one in this instance.

According to Senate rules, the trial must begin the day after the Senate receives the articles at 1 pm in the afternoon. Trials are supposed to run Monday through Saturday. We had Saturday sessions in both impeachment trials of former President Trump in 2020 and 2021.

It is unlikely that U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts presides over a possible Mayorkas trial. Senate impeachment rule IV requires the Chief Justice to preside over cases involving the President or Vice President. In this case, it’s likely that Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray (D-Wash.) presides over a Mayorkas tribunal.

Now we get to perhaps the most interesting question of all. How much of a trial is there? 

The Senate cannot immediately bypass a trial. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced that Mayorkas' trial will begin later in February. The House has named its 11 impeachment managers. Senators will be sworn in as the jury.

Senators can decide to hold a full trial, or potentially, move to dismiss or actually have straight, up or down votes on convicting or exonerating Mayorkas. The Senate could also send the articles to a committee for review.


In the 1998 impeachment trial of former President Clinton, late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) made a motion to dismiss the charges.

There will eventually be either a vote to convict/exonerate Mayorkas or dismiss the charges. Senate Republicans will watch very closely if Senate Democrats engineer any vote to short-circuit the trial. The GOP will take note of how multiple vulnerable Democrats facing competitive re-election bids in battleground districts vote.

If they vote to end the trial or clear Mayorkas, Republicans will likely enroll that into their campaigns against those Democratic senators. Keep in mind that FOX polling data revealed that border security was the number one issue facing voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. Republicans will examine the trial-related votes of Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) – if she runs. 

But the Senate must at least entertain the articles for a day or two – and then render some sort of judgment.