GOP divided in rush to impeach Mayorkas

Tensions are rising in the GOP House over how to tackle a topic many back enthusiastically: impeaching Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Republicans are largely unified in opposition to the secretary, but while some want to go full bore right away, others see fast-track impeachment as a mistake, warning that it's important to build their case before the public.

“We made the argument that impeachment was rushed — the second impeachment — and I think that's not who we are as a party,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a former prosecutor, in reference to the second impeachment of former President Trump.

McCaul said it's the committees of jurisdiction that should be leading the inquiry.

“We need to have hearings on this and we need to gather evidence and facts and, look, do I think the guy has done a terrible job? Yes,“ McCaul said. “Do I think he's been derelict in his responsibilities? Yes. But we need to get all this together, and do it in a methodical way.”

In some corners, Republicans are lining up at the chance to impeach Mayorkas.

After Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) filed articles of impeachment against the secretary this week, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) quickly pledged his own resolution while suggesting he was the one who had actually taken the impeachment action first.

“I was the first Member of Congress to introduce impeachment articles against DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in 2021,” Biggs wrote on Twitter. “I will reintroduce these articles with even more justification very soon.”

Balancing the different interests will be another challenge for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has signaled he supports a deliberate approach.

“House Republicans will investigate every order, every action. And every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” he said in November, during a trip to the border.

Twenty lawmakers have signed on to Fallon’s resolution. While he said he doesn't want to preclude any investigation, Fallon wants to prompt his colleagues to start them immediately. 

“I think it's of vital import to get the ball rolling immediately. Because this is an emergency. This is break glass. This is something that we can't just sit around any longer and say, ‘Well, we'll do it in a month, we'll take it up in four months.’ Let's take it up right now,” he told The Hill.

Building a case for Mayorkas’s impeachment may not be as easy as some of his critics think.

For example, Fallon argues that Mayorkas lied to Congress in two different appearances, when saying both that the Biden administration has maintained operational control of the border and that the border is secure. 

Both points are largely a matter of opinion; impeachment statutes are typically reserved for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“Impeachment is a very serious topic, and it's one where the facts need to lead you to the results, not have a predetermined decision,” said Rep. Tony Gonzales (R), who represents the Texas district with the longest shared border with Mexico.

Homeland Security officials, so far, have not assigned staff to deal with potential impeachment inquiries.

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people.  The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system," said Marsha Espinosa, a spokesperson for DHS.

“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which they have not updated in over 40 years,” she added.

Ultimately, Republicans who support impeachment and those who oppose it will have to make their case to McCarthy and his leadership team, who will weigh the costs and benefits of spending political capital on a historic measure with scant chances in the Senate.

Impeaching Mayorkas in the House would require a majority vote. In the Senate, a two-thirds majority would be necessary to win a conviction — a high bar.

Only one Cabinet member has been impeached in history — former President Grant’s secretary of war, William Belknap, who was accused of taking kickbacks from a contractor he appointed to run the trader post in Fort Sill, Okla. Belknap resigned before facing an almost-certain Senate conviction, a fate that's unlikely to play out with Mayorkas.

Other Republicans who spoke with The Hill stressed the need to go through the proper oversight channels, rather than leap into impeachment.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Tenn.), whose panel would be among those with jurisdiction over Mayorkas’s impeachment, was animated when he spoke about the opportunity to remove the DHS chief, pushing their own coming investigation.

“We're going to hold him accountable. That's what we're going to do. We're going to have hearings and dig into what I would say is dereliction of duty,” he said.

“All I can speak about is what we're going to do in the committee and that is a five-phased approach of tackling the fight.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said the GOP needed to handle the matter in “the appropriate way.”

“I've been very public about my belief that he has violated his oath, that he has undermined our ability to defend our country,” he said.

“But I'm on the House Judiciary Committee in the majority now and so I'm going to talk to [Chair] Jim [Jordan] (R-Ohio) and talk to people on that committee to make sure that we're going through this and looking at it in the appropriate way.” 

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who was initially by McCarthy’s side for the November border trip as he stressed an eventual inquiry, has signed onto Fallon’s resolution as a co-sponsor, saying he believes Cabinet secretaries can be impeached over their policies.

“People argue about this legally, you can impeach a president because you just don't like his policies. In theory that could be considered a high crime or misdemeanor according to the current legal analysis,” he said.

“I just decided I agree with Fallon. That's basically as simple as I can put it.”

Texas Republican files articles of impeachment against Mayorkas

A Texas Republican has filed articles of impeachment against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, wasting little time in the new Congress to act on a GOP priority leadership has said would come after thorough investigation.

Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) filed the paperwork for the resolution on Jan. 3, the first day of the 118th Congress, though with delays in securing a House Speaker, the document was officially filed late Monday.

The resolution claims Mayorkas “engaged in a pattern of conduct that is incompatible with his duties,” complaining that he has failed to maintain operational control over the border.

The resolution comes amid a busy week in the Biden administration. President Biden visited the border over the weekend for the first time since taking office, pledging to deliver more resources to the officers who patrol the region.

And Mayorkas is in Mexico this week, meeting with officials there on a variety of issues, including the shared migration agreement rolled out by the Biden administration last week.

Mayorkas is also due to discuss coordination on transnational crime with Mexican authorities.

Fallon’s resolution won’t move without further action from GOP leadership, but it would otherwise jump-start a process House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has treaded carefully on.

“House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso, Texas, in November.

Still, impeachment charges against Mayorkas were all but certain under Republican control of the House, as the DHS secretary has been a constant foil for the party during the Biden administration.

Republicans claim that under Biden, the DHS has dismantled the border security apparatus built under former President Trump, leading to border chaos.

The primary basis for the articles of impeachment is the claim that Mayorkas lied to Congress — a case they back by pointing to two instances in which the secretary told lawmakers he believed the Southern border was under control.

“His willful actions erode our immigration system, undermine border patrol morale, and imperil American national security. He must be removed from office,” Fallon said in a release.

DHS said Tuesday that Mayorkas has no plans to resign and argued that the grounds for impeachment pointed to by the GOP were both inaccurate and failed to meet the standards to qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Marsha Espinosa said in a statement.

“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which they have not updated in over 40 years.”

Most border and immigration analysts agree that increased migration due to security, economic and governance conditions in the Western Hemisphere is the primary reason for the high number of migrants encountered at the border.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, left, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speak before a meeting with President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

And Mayorkas has taken flak both from the right and the left, as the DHS has maintained many of the Trump administration's border policies, which immigrant advocates say violate human rights.

Still, Republicans see the border as a winning issue for them, and Mayorkas is the Biden administration's face on that issue.

Mayorkas, the first Latino to ever hold that post, has often butted heads with congressional Republicans at oversight hearings.

In April, Mayorkas clashed with Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, including a notable exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) over the agency's record on deportations from the interior of the country.

That combative exchange could set the tone for impeachment proceedings.

The potential for a political circus is concerning for Republicans fresh off a nationally televised Speaker's race that highlighted divisions in the party.

Some Republicans have expressed reservations about going after Mayorkas without careful study. 

“You’ve got to build a case. You need the facts, evidence before you indict,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“Has he been derelict in his responsibilities? I think so,” he added.

—Updated at 5:15 p.m.

Five things to know ahead of the Jan. 6 committee’s crucial week

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is heading into a crucial week as it prepares to hold its final presentation, release a highly anticipated report outlining findings from the panel’s year-plus probe and vote on criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.

The votes on criminal referrals are expected during Monday’s business meeting, marking a significant step for the panel, which has said one of its goals is to prevent what happened on Jan. 6 from happening again.

The week’s closely watched events are the culmination of the committee’s sprawling investigation, which began months after last year’s deadly riot and has consisted of almost a dozen hearings, testimony from more than 1,000 witnesses and millions of documents.

Here are five things to look for as the committee kicks off a pivotal week:

Committee to vote on referrals Monday

Sunrise at the U.S. Capitol, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol prepares to hold its final meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The committee will vote on criminal referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ) during its final business meeting on Monday.

Multiple outlets reported on Friday that the committee will vote on urging the DOJ to pursue at least three charges against former President Trump, including obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, insurrection and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The referrals will be closely watched inside and outside Washington, but they are also largely symbolic. The DOJ is not obligated to consider recommendations from congressional committees and is in the midst of conducting its own investigation into Jan. 6.

Criminal referrals likely won’t be the only ones the panel considers. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the committee, previously said the panel was considering “five or six categories” for referrals. The committee has highlighted behavior that would be under the purview of the Justice Department, House Ethics Committee and professional organizations, such as bar associations.

“We’re focused on key players and we’re focused on key players where there is sufficient evidence or abundant evidence that they committed crimes, and we’re focused on crimes that go right to the heart of the Constitutional order such that the Congress can’t remain silent,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the committee, told reporters last week.

Raskin suggested earlier this month that the five Republican lawmakers who ignored subpoenas from the committee — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Reps. Scott Perry (Pa.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Mo Brooks (Ala.) — could be referred to the Ethics Committee.

On Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, told CNN's "State of the Union" that the committee has considered censure and ethics referrals.

Asked last week if he or any of his GOP colleagues are concerned about being referred for criminal contempt for ignoring subpoenas, McCarthy told reporters “no, not at all, we did nothing wrong.” 

The committee could also be mulling referrals to bar associations as a rebuke to the lawyers who assisted Trump in his quest to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Panel to release full report on Wednesday

Representatives sit on the dais as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, July 12, 2022.

The committee is set to release its report, which will be comprised of eight chapters outlining the findings of the panel’s months-long investigation, on Wednesday.

Those chapters, according to Politico, will closely correspond with the evidence presented at its nine public hearings this year. The committee will also provide an executive summary.

After Monday's business meeting, the panel is expected to release certain materials, including an executive summary of the report, details on referrals, and additional information about witnesses who have appeared before the committee, according to a select committee aide.

But on Wednesday, the public will get access to the full report, including “attachments and some other things,” according to Thompson. The public may have to wait longer, however, to sift through transcripts of witness interviews.

Committee to release legislative recommendations

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) speaks during a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on Thursday, October 13, 2022 to focus on former President Trump’s efforts to remain in power following his 2020 election defeat.

Monday’s business meeting will also feature some legislative recommendations, Thompson told reporters, which are core part of the Jan. 6 committee’s purpose.

“A lot of our work is also focused on recommendations, legislatively what needs to be done to prevent coups, insurrections, political violence and electoral sabotage in the future,” Raskin, who is a constitutional law expert, said in the Capitol last week.

“And in some sense that’s the heart of it because we think there is a clear, continuing, present danger to democracy today,” he added.

The House has already passed one legislative proposal crafted by members of the committee — the Presidential Election Reform Act, which clarifies the vice president’s role in certifying elections and significantly increases the number of lawmakers needed to object to the certification of a state’s electors.

But Raskin told reporters that the measure was “a very minimal first step.”

In September, he laid out a laundry list of areas the committee wanted to address following its investigation.

“We want to strengthen and fortify the electoral system and the right to vote. We want to do what we can to secure the situation of election workers and keep them safe from violence. We want to solidify the states in their determination that private armed militias not operate in the name of the state. You know, we don’t have any kind of federal law or policy about private armed militias,” the Maryland Democrat said.

It remains to be seen what the scope of the final recommendations will be. And they will be released just as Republicans take control of the House, leaving no time for the Democratic majority to pursue legislation.

Asked last week if there is any regret that the recommendations are coming at such a late stage, Raskin told reporters “I hope that they will have an impact on the thinking of Congress going forward.”

DOJ will finally get committee’s report Wednesday

The Department of Justice logo is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, August 5, 2021 prior to a press conference regarding a civil rights matter.

The DOJ has spent months requesting evidence from the panel as it conducts its own investigation and on Wednesday it will finally get its hands on the committee’s final report.

Attorney General Merrick Garland had said the department would like to view the transcripts and other materials “so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigations.”

In June, the DOJ wrote in a court filing that the committee’s refusal to share information was making its work more difficult.

“The Select Committee’s failure to grant the Department access to these transcripts complicates the Department’s ability to investigate and prosecute those who engaged in criminal conduct in relation to the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” a letter in the filing read.

“Accordingly, we renew our request that the Select Committee provide us with copies of the transcripts of all the interviews it has conducted to date,” it added.

But Thompson told reporters last month that the DOJ would have to wait until the final report was published to view evidence the committee collected throughout its year-and-a-half investigation. 

The DOJ will finally get its wish on Wednesday, when the committee’s report is made available to the public — including those who work in the agency.

Cheney, Kinzinger to have final moments in the spotlight

Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)

Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) are seen during a House Jan. 6 committee hearing on Thursday, July 21, 2022 to focus on former President Trump’s actions during the insurrection.

Monday’s business meeting will also mark a swan song of sorts for Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who are departing Congress at the end of this month after breaking from the Republican Party and denouncing Trump.

Cheney, one of two Republicans serving on the panel, is leaving the House after losing reelection over the summer, in part because of her participation on the Jan. 6 committee.

She has emerged as an outspoken critic of Trump, using her prominent position as vice chair of the committee to lay out the case that the former president was responsible for what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

It is a main reason why she lost reelection last year to Wyoming lawyer Harriet Hageman, who Trump handpicked to challenge Cheney after she voted for his impeachment and joined the Jan. 6 committee.

Kinzinger has also become a top GOP critic of Trump, though he opted out of running for reelection this year.

Despite their departures, the GOP duo has continued in their crusades against Trump, criticizing him for recent comments he made regarding the Constitution and for dining with noted white supremacist Nick Fuentes.

But Monday’s meeting will likely be the last time they can make the case against Trump with the audience and platform that come with being a member of Congress.

McCarthy Speaker quest leaves balancing act on national security

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is toeing a delicate line on national security issues in the lame-duck session as he seeks to win enough votes on the House floor to win the Speakership in January.

McCarthy is torn between competing factions of the GOP as he weighs a series of moves targeting the Biden administration and other Washington Democrats in the next Congress — all while trying to convince conservative GOP lawmakers to back him for Speaker.

He’s vowed to boot California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He’s also threatened to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his handling of the southern border.

And McCarthy has indicated he will withhold GOP support for a lame-duck vote on a bipartisan defense policy bill as a way to fight “wokeism” in the military.  

If the delay is successful, it would mark the first time in more than 60 years that has Congress failed to reauthorize Pentagon spending by the end of a calendar year; the delay would allow a GOP House to take it up next year.

Democrats have blasted McCarthy’s plans to boot Democrats from panels as purely political, while Republicans say Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) set Congress on that slippery slope when House Democrats impeached former President Trump twice and later expelled two Republicans from their committee seats.

The House voted last year to punish Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for sharing an animated video showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) was removed months earlier for promoting the execution of leading Democrats before she was elected to office. 

McCarthy blamed Democrats for “this new standard.”

“Never in the history [of Congress] have you had the majority tell the minority who can be on committee,” McCarthy said at the start of 2022. “This is a new level of what the Democrats have done.”

For Schiff, McCarthy has zeroed in on his role in the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, accusing him of lying to the public about the former president’s ties to Moscow and Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine. He’s bashed Swalwell for his ties to a Chinese spy with whom he cut off contact after being warned of her true identity by the FBI.

Schiff said his targeting is nothing more than an effort by McCarthy to win support for his Speakership bid.

McCarthy was elected Speaker-designate in a closed-door GOP conference vote, but lost 31 votes. He will need to win over many of them to be elected Speaker on the House floor.

“McCarthy’s problem is not with what I have said about Russia. McCarthy’s problem is, he can’t get to 218 without Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz,” Schiff said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union." 

“And so he will do whatever they ask. And, right now, they’re asking for me to be removed from our committees. And he’s willing to do it. He’s willing to do anything they ask.”

The Mayorkas fight reflects the awkward line that McCarthy is trying to walk.

He courted conservative votes last week by vowing an investigation of Mayorkas but did not fully embrace an impeachment vote, allowing himself wiggle room to change his mind next year.

“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate. Every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso, Texas.

In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) expressed doubt the GOP would be able to impeach Mayorkas swiftly.

“You’ve got to build a case. You need the facts, evidence before you indict. Has he been derelict in his responsibilities? I think so,” he said.

Other Republicans, however, want to go full steam ahead, suggesting anything short of Mayorkas’s removal would put the country’s security at risk.

“He needs to go,” Rep. Ronnie Jackson (R-Texas) told Fox News on Sunday. “We need to make an example of Mayorkas. And he will be just the start of what we do in this new Congress.”

Other Republicans have dismissed an impeachment vote as a stunt.

“It would basically be putting form over substance to go through a big performance on impeachment that’s never going anywhere,” former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a George W. Bush appointee, said over the weekend, “rather than actually working with the administration to solve the problem.”

McCarthy also faces divisions on delaying the defense bill, as some Republicans want to move forward and also pull back from threats to limit support for Ukraine. 

McCarthy says he wants to pump the breaks on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and another round of funding to aid Ukraine in its battle against Russia, saying he wouldn’t back a “blank check.”

“I’ve watched what the Democrats have done on many of these things, especially the NDAA — the wokeism that they want to bring in there,” McCarthy told reporters shortly after the midterms. “I actually believe the NDAA should hold up until the 1st of this year — and let’s get it right.”

McCarthy is far from the only Republican with complaints about the NDAA. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) put out a report slamming the “Woke Warfighters” of the Pentagon. But McCarthy is also facing pressure from the right.

“Let’s hold the bill hostage. Let’s leverage what we have,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who opposes McCarthy’s Speakership bid, recently said on a podcast. 

Democrats and the Biden administration argue a delay will hurt the military.

“If you kick it off four, five, six months, you are really damaging the United States military. So I hope Kevin McCarthy understands that,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said. “You are damaging the United States military every day past Oct. 1 that you don’t get it done, and certainly more so every day past" Jan. 1.

On Ukraine, some Republicans have bristled at the idea of holding back any funding as the country continues to make advances against Russia.

“We're going to make certain they get what they need,” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said in an appearance alongside McCaul.

“The fact is, we are going to provide more oversight, transparency and accountability. We're not going to write a blank check,” McCaul added. “Does that diminish our will to help the Ukraine people fight? No. But we're going to do it in a responsible way.” 

McCarthy calls on DHS Secretary Mayorkas to resign, threatens impeachment inquiry

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that GOP lawmakers will consider impeachment next year if he does not step down.

“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate, every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday.

McCarthy cited the Department of Homeland Security head's statements to Congress that the border is under control, record border crossing numbers and his ending of the "Remain in Mexico" asylum policy instituted during the Trump administration as reasons for resignation.

“Our country may never recover from Secretary Mayorkas’s dereliction of duty,” McCarthy said.

The comments from the minority leader are his strongest words on impeachment to date, but they fall short of a promise to bring up articles against Mayorkas.

McCarthy was nominated by House Republicans to serve as Speaker in the next Congress last week during a closed-door vote.

But he still faces opposition from hard-line conservatives, who called on him to be more aggressive on topics including the impeachment of Biden administration officials and President Biden himself.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, mounted a last-minute protest challenge to McCarthy for Speaker, citing the minority leader's lack of commitment to impeach Mayorkas. Biggs has previously introduced articles of impeachment against the administration official. He won 31 votes in the secret-ballot House Republican Conference meeting, while McCarthy received 188.

McCarthy needs support from a majority of those voting for a Speaker candidate on the House floor on Jan. 3 in order to be elected to the post.

But Republicans won a narrow majority in the 2022 midterms, and McCarthy has little wiggle room for error on that vote. A few Republicans, including Biggs, have indicated that they will not vote for him.

The press conference with other House GOP members came after a day of touring the U.S.-Mexico border and meeting with border officials.

McCarthy said that Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and James Comer (Ky.), the likely chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees next year, “have my complete support to investigate the collapse of our border, and the shutdown of ICE enforcement.”

“Leader McCarthy is right. Americans deserve accountability for the unprecedented crisis on the southwest border. Republicans will hold Secretary Mayorkas accountable for his failure to enforce immigration law and secure the border through all means necessary,” Jordan, who would oversee impeachment proceedings if they occurred, said in a statement distributed during the press conference.

Republicans made a pledge to investigate the Biden administration’s border and migration policies a key part of their midterm campaign message, and Comer has long said he will hold hearings about the border. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) joked in September that the House GOP would give Mayorkas a reserved parking spot because he would be testifying so often.

Mayorkas, who has no plans to resign, pushed back on Congress in a statement issued shortly after McCarthy's speech.

“Secretary Mayorkas is proud to advance the noble mission of this Department, support its extraordinary workforce, and serve the American people. The Department will continue our work to enforce our laws and secure our border, while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

“Members of Congress can do better than point the finger at someone else; they should come to the table and work on solutions for our broken system and outdated laws, which have not been overhauled in over 40 years,” the statement continued. 

In appearances before Congress last week, Mayorkas maintained that the border is under control, but he acknowledged that the fiscal year ending in September showed that a record 1.7 million migrants attempted to cross the Southwest border.

“The entire hemisphere is suffering a migration crisis. We are seeing unprecedented movement of people from country to country,” he said.

He also pledged to look for new ways to restrict immigration now that a federal court has struck down Title 42, which allowed the agency to quickly expel migrants without seeking asylum due to public health concerns.

Mayorkas said the department is currently evaluating how to expel Venezuelans at the border, a group that makes up a large part of migrants coming to America given the political and economic instability there.

The latest calls for Mayorkas to resign come shortly after U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus resigned from his position after being asked to do so by President Biden.

McCarthy first appeared to open the door to impeachment of Mayorkas at another press conference in April. 

“This is his moment in time to do his job. But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody,” McCarthy said at an April press conference in Eagle Pass, Texas.

But he later tamped down expectations for impeachment, saying that he does not want the procedure to be political as he claimed Democrats' impeachment of former President Trump was. McCarthy reiterated that sentiment on Tuesday in El Paso.

“We never do impeachment for political purposes. We’re having investigation,” McCarthy said. 

“We know exactly what Secretary Mayorkas has done. We've watched across this nation, something that’s never happened before. We watched him time and again before committee say this border is secure, and we can't find one border agent who agrees with him,” McCarthy said. “So we will investigate. If investigation leads to impeachment inquiry, we will follow through.”

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.

Europe relaxes after US midterms, but fears of a 2024 Trump win run high

America’s allies in Europe breathed a sigh of relief as the U.S. midterm contests come to a close. U.S. allies believe slimmer margins of control between Democrats and Republicans in Congress will not jeopardize American support to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.  

From Kyiv to Berlin and Tbilisi, Georgia, fears that a larger Republican majority would move the U.S. back into the isolationist mindset of the Trump presidency were squashed. But the international community will be closely watching what a likely divided government means for President Biden’s leadership role among allies. 

But even amid European relief, a group of Republicans largely backed by former President Trump still put the fate of U.S. support to Ukraine increasingly under strain. 

The United States is the largest supplier of military and economic assistance to Ukraine, and Europeans are bracing for a potential Trump comeback after the former president teased announcing a 2024 run. 

“I think there's kind of a bit of a relief, especially in Europe … that the march of MAGA Republicanism, Trumpism seems to have stopped in its tracks a bit,” said Matthias Matthijs, senior fellow for Europe at the Council on Foreign Relations. “That’s at least the interpretation here. That this is not a foregone conclusion that 2024 will result in some sort of isolationist presidency again.” 

Khatia Dekanoidze, an opposition lawmaker from Georgia, told The Hill that the Georgian public are “interested in who will be winning in the House and who will be running the Senate and what the balance is, what would be decided regarding Ukrainian support.” 

“Also it’s very interesting from the people’s perspective, will Trump be back? It’s a very common question,” she added.  

Yevgen Korniychuck, Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, told The Hill that Kyiv is watching closely the “minority of pro-Trump” Republicans, raising concern that “they are not really happy with support of Ukraine.” 

“But the full majority will be in support, I’m sure. This is the most important for us,” he said.  

Europeans are also paying close attention to the presidential aspirations of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has increasingly come under attacks from Trump, signaling his outsized influence in the GOP.  

“Ron DeSantis has arrived as a name in the German press,” said Peter Rough, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute with a focus on Europe.   

“[The Germans] say Ron DeSantis may be even more dangerous than Trump because he can actually implement and execute his policies, unlike DJT [Donald J. Trump]. ‘Trump but with a brain,’ they said last night on the [German] prime-time talk show I was on.” 

Europeans welcomed Biden's focus on improving the transatlantic relationship that was made a target by Trump, who threatened to pull out of NATO, antagonized leaders in Germany and France and embraced far-right outliers like Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orbán.  

“There’s no question that folks in Europe do wonder what’s going to happen in 2024,” said Marjorie Chorlins, senior vice president for Europe at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “They do see the more hawkish, less pro-transatlantic rhetoric that came out of the last administration as a problem and that there’s a risk that’s going to come back.”  

Chorlins said that Europeans welcome closer cooperation with the U.S., and are looking to leverage the unity Biden rallied in support for Ukraine — coordinating sanctions against Moscow and pooling military and economic assistance for Kyiv — to address other aspects of the American relationship with the European Union.  

“The question is whether we can leverage the unity that we found around Ukraine and Russia, and take that energy and apply it in other ways,” she said.   

Biden, in a post-midterm-election press conference on Wednesday, said that the “vast majority” of allies are looking to cooperate when asked how other world leaders should view this moment for the U.S., with Trump teasing another presidential run. 

Biden further warned against isolationism that Trump had embraced. 

“What I find is that they want to know: Is the United States stable? Do we know what we’re about? Are we the same democracy we've always been?” the president said. “Because, look, the rest of the world looks to us. … If the United States tomorrow were to, quote, ‘withdraw from the world,’ a lot of things would change around the world.” 

Emily Horne, former National Security Council spokesperson and special assistant to Biden, called the midterm elections the dog that didn’t bark for European allies and partners. 

“There’s some temporary relief now, but not on the bigger question of 2024 and whether Trump or someone like him could come back and derail so much of the progress that we have been able to make together with Europe, not just on Ukraine, but on everything from getting COVID under control to preparing for future pandemics to tackling climate change,” said Horne, founder of Allegro Public Affairs. 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) who could become the next House Speaker, raised eyebrows last month when he said Republicans would scrutinize aid to Ukraine if they have a majority, comments he has since tried to defend as oversight rather than a lack of support for Ukraine.  

Biden on Wednesday said he is optimistic that funding and bipartisan support for Ukraine would continue, adding that he would be surprised if there’s a majority of Republicans who are unwilling to help.  

Horne argued that it would be a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin if a Republican-led House puts a halt to the flow of munitions to Ukrainians. She added that while McCarthy knows the consequences of such a move, it comes down to the others in his camp. 

“The question is, can he control the actors in his caucus that care more about their Twitter sound bites than doing the right thing by both U.S. security interests in Europe and the Ukrainian people?” Horne said.  

But, she added, there is an understanding among allies that “there are individuals who get a lot of airtime who actually have very little sway over what’s in the policy that goes forward for the president's signature.” 

Allies worry about other aspects of a Republican majority in Congress and how it could impact Biden’s overall focus on the war in Ukraine and foreign policy issues like climate and China. 

With a potential Republican majority in the House, there is a concern among Europeans that GOP-led investigations into Biden could distract him from international affairs, Matthijs said. 

“There is worry in Europe that Biden will now be distracted by a House that will make his life miserable. That all we’re going to hear about is Hunter Biden’s laptop and these kinds of fake impeachment proceedings against the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, Tony Fauci, you name it,” he said. 

But, he said that Europeans feel “slightly better” about the U.S. overall after the midterm elections. 

“It doesn't mean much will change right away because of this election, but at least it's a very helpful reminder, I think, to a lot of people in Europe that the U.S. is capable of self-correction when it goes too much in one direction,” he said. 

How the midterms could impact the Russia-Ukraine war

The midterm elections, which are largely being fought over inflation, crime and other domestic issues, could have a huge impact on America’s role in the Russia-Ukraine war. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the likely Speaker in a GOP majority, has talked about how Ukraine would not get a “blank check” from the U.S. with Republicans in control of the House.  

GOP victories by pro-Trump candidates in the House and Senate could also amplify isolationist voices that have questioned the Biden administration’s steady spending in support of Ukraine.  

“I just see a freight train coming, and that is Trump and his operation turning against aid for Ukraine,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told MSNBC last month, underscoring a widely-held concern among Democrats. He added that there could be “a real crisis where the House Republican majority would refuse to support additional aid to Ukraine.” 

Statements from GOP lawmakers such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) have added to the anxiety. During a rally last week, she said a GOP majority would not spend “another penny” on Ukraine.  

To be sure, there are many voices within the GOP that have been highly supportive of Ukraine during the conflict with Russia, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).  

Sen. James Risch (Idaho) and Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the top Republicans in the foreign affairs committees in each chamber, have been leading voices in support of arming Ukraine, often pushing for Biden to do more.   

Danielle Pletka, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Republican Senate foreign policy staff member, said a majority of Republicans want to back Ukraine against Russia’s aggression.  

“For me, it is about the great battle of the substantive versus the loud,” she said, placing figures like Greene in the latter category. “But these are not people who have any power at all in the House or the Senate.”

But it is also true that McCarthy’s comments reflect skepticism about U.S. economic and military support for Ukraine within his conference. 

And the first test of GOP resistance to additional Ukraine aid could come before the end of this session, with the Biden administration expected to push for another aid package during the lame-duck period before January.

Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said McCarthy was “exactly right” with his no-blank-check comments.  

“Now Democrats are screaming and saying 'Well, McCarthy says that, we know he's gonna be Speaker of the House. We're gonna pass another $50 billion in the lame duck.' It’s just absurd. It’s insanity,” he told Fox News last month.  

That package is likely to pass with Democrats still in control of the House and Senate no matter the results of the midterms. But the level of GOP opposition could indicate how much of the caucus remains on board with strong support for Kyiv. And Banks’s remarks could find even more support if the U.S. economy tips into a recession in 2023.  

Ukraine is likely to be watching the results of the midterms with some anxiety, though Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the BBC last week that he was confident that both parties would keep up support for Kyiv after meetings with lawmakers.  

“I got a lot of signals that it doesn't matter who will steer … bipartisan support for Ukraine will be continued,” he said. “I believe in that.” 

Andres Kasekamp, a political science professor at the University of Toronto who studies the war, said the GOP is “exploiting” the narrative that America must choose between investing in the U.S. on one hand or helping Ukraine on the other. He accused some in the GOP of abandoning the idea that upholding a rules-based international order is in the U.S. interest.  

“That used to be something that was common sense and in the DNA of the Republican Party,” he said. “Now the sort of populists on the far right of the Republican Party have changed the narrative, and it’s dangerous.” 

So far, Americans remain largely united behind U.S. support for Ukraine, thought recent polls have shown a growing partisan divide. 

Reuters-Ipsos poll conducted in early October found that 81 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans agreed that the U.S. should continue to support Ukraine, despite nuclear warnings from Russia.  

Wall Street Journal poll this month found that 81 percent of Democrats support additional financial aid for Ukraine, compared to 35 percent of Republicans. And almost half of Republicans said the U.S. is doing too much, up from 6 percent at the start of the war.  

“It plays right into the hands of Putin,” Kasekamp said of skepticism toward Ukraine support. “The Russians from the beginning have tried to dissuade the West from helping the Ukrainians.” 

Former President Trump has said current U.S. policy risks World War III, advocating instead for the U.S. to pressure Ukraine to open peace talks with Russia.  

Last month, he found rare common cause with progressive Democrats in the House, who released and then retracted a letter calling on President Biden to ramp up diplomatic efforts to end the war.  

Tuesday’s election could bolster the ranks of Ukraine skeptics. J.D. Vance, the Trump-backed GOP Senate nominee in Ohio, said earlier this year that he didn’t care about Ukraine, and wanted Biden to focus on the U.S. border.  

Pletka, the former GOP staffer, said she worried that the far right and far left — for different reasons — will decide to capitulate to Putin and pressure Ukraine to take a peace deal.  

“I could absolutely see the appeasement wing of the Democratic Party having a meeting of minds, if you can call them that, with the fortress America-first wing of the Republican party and doing the wrong thing,” she said.  

Despite Ukraine projecting confidence in continued support from both parties, Suriya Evans-Pritchard Jayanti, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said Kyiv has cause for concern.  

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy learned the hard way in 2019 how much domestic U.S. politics can affect Ukraine’s reality,” she wrote last week, referring to Trump’s first impeachment trial.  

“He and his team would be right to worry about next week’s polls. Whether or not the GOP will follow through on its threats to scale back Ukraine aid is impossible to predict, but it is definitely a real possibility,” she added. 

Lawmakers furious at Democratic leaders after stock trading ban stalls

Anger is boiling over at House Democratic leadership for failing to deliver on a bill to ban members of Congress from trading stocks — a key priority for voters on both sides of the aisle — ahead of the midterm elections.  

Democratic leaders unveiled draft legislation to tackle the issue Tuesday, just days before Congress was set to leave for an extended recess. That left lawmakers little time to review the bill or offer changes, such as closing loopholes that critics say make the bill toothless, dooming its chances of a floor vote. 

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) on Friday issued a scathing statement, accusing Democratic leaders of slow-walking her own stock trading proposal — introduced two years ago with bipartisan backing — and ultimately offering a more complicated bill that was designed to fail. 

“This moment marks a failure of House leadership — and it’s yet another example of why I believe that the Democratic Party needs new leaders in the halls of Capitol Hill, as I have long made known,” Spanberger said in her statement.  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Friday that the bill didn’t come to the floor because it didn’t have the votes to pass.  

The delay is a momentous setback for the stock trading reform effort, which drew a rare confluence of support from an overwhelming majority of Republican and Democratic voters.  

Public scrutiny of lawmakers’ trades intensified when Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) unloaded much of his portfolio after attending a private briefing on the devastating impacts of COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic. Pelosi, whose husband is a prolific trader, also drew backlash when she said she wouldn’t support a ban on stock trading in Congress, a position she later reversed. 

“Passing a stock trading bill before the midterms would have been a good faith sign to the voters that Congress takes its responsibility to the public interest seriously,” said Danielle Caputo, an ethics lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center. “And so obviously, that's disappointing.” 

The Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interests in Government Act, spearheaded by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) at the request of Pelosi, aims to prevent insider trading among members of Congress, federal government officials and Supreme Court justices. 

The bill is meant to stop insider trading by making officials put any stocks they own into what’s called a blind trust, whereby the stocks are handed over to a third party that manages them without their owner’s knowledge. 

But critics of the bill say that it contains a loophole that allows officials to get out of this requirement. 

“The problem is that the bill allows people to create a trust that they can claim is blind and diversified, and yet it doesn’t actually have to meet the criteria that are currently in the law for it to officially be a blind trust,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, an advocate with The Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a nonprofit watchdog organization.  

Congressional ethics committees, notorious for failing to hold lawmakers accountable for violating existing ethics rules, would sign off on the blind trusts under the proposal.  

“It’s basically a fake blind trust,” he said. “We don’t have that much trust in what the ethics committee is going to do because they’re notoriously weak in doing anything that’s particularly restrictive or robust around what happens internally.” 

Critics of Democratic leaders’ approach say that the stock trading bill should have stuck to the legislative branch, and that including ethics reforms to the judiciary and federal government only complicated its chances of passage. Those changes could have come in future bills, they said. 

Lawmakers complained this week that the Lofgren bill was not crafted with input from many rank-and-file lawmakers, particularly Republicans.  

“This is a complex issue requiring thought, debate, amendment and a full airing in committee to build as much bipartisan agreement as possible rather than the normal cram-down from the top that permeates literally everything we do,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who partnered with Spanberger on a stock trading bill, said in a statement Wednesday. 

House Judiciary Committee member Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said in an interview that he suspects that many members of his committee haven’t had time to properly review the legislation. 

“I would suppose there are many members who have not actually read the legislation. And it’s certainly an important enough issue that we need to take adequate time to deliberate on it. We know that stock trading by members of Congress and by judges — Article III judges — is unacceptable,” he said, referring to judges who are nominated by the president and can only be removed from office with impeachment proceedings. 

A recent analysis by The New York Times found that one-fifth of U.S. lawmakers traded financial assets in industries that relate to their work on government committees in recent years.  

A 2012 law called the STOCK Act forbids members of Congress from using insider information when buying and selling stocks, but watchdogs say violations of the law are common. 

“We keep seeing STOCK Act violations,” POGO’s Hedtler-Gaudette said. “We see them time and time again. And they’re not even assessing penalties on the people who are violating the STOCK Act.” 

The proposed stock trading ban in the House is one of several bills now being debated in the Senate from lawmakers including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). 

Upon hearing the news of the stalled bill Friday, Hawley tweeted, "Pathetic. This should be a slam dunk."

"Congress AND their spouses from owning stock. But no. Pelosi & Company won’t give up the $$$$," he continued.

The proposals from Hawley and Ossoff allow for stocks to be put into blind trusts, while the bipartisan measure from Warren and Daines is more strict and requires that stocks be sold off outright. 

Supporters are still hopeful that lawmakers can finish a stock trading bill in a lame duck session after the election. But they note that there will be less pressure on lawmakers to appease voters, and Congress will already have its hands full with a slew of legislative priorities, including a government spending bill. 

The Hill has reached out to Pelosi's office for additional comment.

Updated 4:02 p.m.

Spike in FBI threats unsettles the right

An uptick in threats to the FBI after it executed a search warrant at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is unsettling the political right, with some calling on allies of the former president to tone down their rhetoric.

Barriers have been erected outside the perimeter of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., while the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly issued a joint bulletin Friday warning about spikes in threats that included a bomb threat at FBI headquarters and calls for “civil war” and “armed rebellion.”

Fox News host Steve Doocy on Monday urged the former president and others to “tamp down the rhetoric against the FBI” in light of the threats, while Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Trump’s language was “inflammatory.”

“I don’t want to put any law enforcement in the bull’s-eye of a potential threat,” McCaul said.

The bulletin issued by DHS and the FBI cited an incident in which a man armed with an AR-15-style rifle allegedly fired a nail gun into an FBI office in Cincinnati last week, according to NBC News. He was fatally shot by police after a chase and standoff, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Trump on Monday in an interview with Fox News did say the temperature on the issue needed to come down, adding that he’d told aides to reach out to the Department of Justice to help.

But in the same interview, Trump directed his wrath at the Justice Department and suggested that his supporters’ anger was justified. Trump said that Americans are “not going to stand for another scam,” said that the FBI can “break into a president’s house” in a “sneak attack” and suggested that the FBI “could have planted anything they wanted” during the search.

In another post on Truth Social, his social media platform, he claimed that his passports had been taken during the search. Passports were not included on a list of items mentioned as part of a warrant released on Friday, though some of the descriptions of what was seized were broad in nature.

The president’s account on the platform his own business launched is one of his most direct ways to reach supporters online now, since he lost access to his Twitter and Facebook accounts after his posts the day of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a former FBI agent, told Margaret Brennan of “Face the Nation” on Sunday that he was concerned about the safety of FBI agents.

“Violence is never the answer to anything,” Fitzpatrick said. “We live in a democracy that's 246 years old, Margaret. That's not long, that's just a few generations, and yet we're the world's only democracy. And the only way that can come unraveled is if we have disrespect for our institutions that lead to Americans turning on Americans and the whole system becomes unraveled. And a lot of that starts with the words we're using.”

“I'm also urging all my colleagues to understand the weight of your words and support law enforcement no matter what,” he added.

Republicans have sought to differentiate between Biden appointees and rank-and-file FBI agents when raising concerns about potential politicization of the department.

“I won't smear the FBI, like the career FBI agents,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said Friday. “But the political appointees running this stuff are very worrisome.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray was appointed by Trump in 2017.

Some Republicans have continued to use incendiary rhetoric to speak to their massive online bases. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), using her official congressional account since her personal Twitter was suspended in January over COVID-19 misinformation, told her 1 million followers Monday that “Republicans must force” the “political persecution” to stop. Greene filed articles of impeachment against Attorney General Merrick Garland last week.

Katherine Keneally, a senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), said she is most concerned about the potential for extremist groups to capitalize on this moment to mobilize for future membership. 

“Specifically, any accelerationist groups that are seeing an uptick in people being upset at the FBI, a government agency, works very well for recruitment for an organization that wants to collapse the US government. So I think that's where my concern is, that these even more nefarious groups are going to use this as a catalyst moment for recruitment,” she said. 

According to a report compiled by ISD analysts, social media accounts believed to belong to the alleged Cincinnati gunman, Ricky Shiffer, suggest he was “motivated by a combination of conspiratorial beliefs related to former President Trump and the 2020 election (among others), interest in killing federal law enforcement, and the recent search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.”

ISD researchers found that Shiffer was likely prepping for the attack for at least two days, based on posts from a since-removed Truth Social account believed to belong to him.

The researchers also found posts and photographs placing Shiffer at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, although it is not confirmed if he was present during the insurrection, and posts on the right-wing video site Rumble that show Shiffer encouraging users to “get in touch with the Proud Boys,” a far-right group. 

Keneally said the Ohio incident hasn’t been mentioned widely by other far-right users of online platforms, likely because it wasn’t successful. But researchers are still seeing general calls for violence targeting the FBI. 

Those monitoring the online vitriol, across mainstream platforms and fringe sites that cater to conservative users, warned that the posts from lawmakers and influencers online could incite their followers to take real-world action.

“It certainly plays a role in the radicalization process,” Keneally said.

“While they might not be directly calling for violence, the conspiratorial allegations certainly play a role in how these people are radicalized, and how they go down that path, regardless of whether it's an official stating, ‘kill the FBI,’ that's not what needs to be said to help radicalize. You just accused the FBI of ‘overstepping their boundaries,’ or like ‘taking away your constitutional rights,’ and that's what that's what people are mobilizing around,” Keneally said. 

Pelosi courts controversy with Taiwan trip that’s personal to Speaker

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has stirred a storm of controversy, heightening tensions with China and captivating the world’s attention.

For the California Democrat, however, the trip is something much more personal.

Pelosi has a long track record of confronting Chinese leaders head-on, particularly on issues of human rights, stretching back decades to include the massacre of pro-democracy activists on Tiananmen Square.

Her decision to visit Taiwan — a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its own — ranks among the most conspicuous exhibitions of that advocacy campaign; Pelosi on Tuesday became the highest-ranking U.S. official to set foot in Taiwan in 25 years.

Through that lens, Pelosi's trek — taken in the twilight of her long career against the wishes of the Biden administration — is not only a diplomatic endeavor to demonstrate U.S. support for Taiwanese autonomy, but a legacy-building crusade for a figure who likes to boast she takes “second place to no one” in her condemnation of Beijing's human rights atrocities.

It’s a historic trip for a historic Speaker — and it may prove to be the crowning global performance of a long political run that’s widely expected to reach an end with the close of this Congress.

“Pelosi has a long history of challenging Beijing — including her visit to Tiananmen Square in 1991 – unfurling an American flag no less,” Sarah Binder, political science professor at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in an email Tuesday, just hours after the Speaker landed in Taipei.

“If she does indeed retire after this Congress, I suspect the trip will be viewed as the capstone of her legacy on the issue (well, if all goes well, that is),” Binder said.

That “if” has also been on the minds of top Biden administration officials, particularly those in the Pentagon who had cautioned against Pelosi’s visit over concerns that it would trigger a retaliatory response from Beijing. President Biden had vocalized the Defense Department’s apprehensions late last month, telling reporters that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now.”

Yet Biden never attempted to dissuade the trip himself, Pelosi said, and White House officials more recently have come around to bless the visit — at least publicly — while warning China against any sort of bellicose response.

“We shouldn’t be — as a country — we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Monday in an interview with CNN. “This is an important trip for the Speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her.”

Chinese leaders have ignored those warnings, following up their initial admonitions with new threats after Pelosi arrived in Taipei. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly issued a statement saying Pelosi’s visit not only represents “a serious violation of the one-China principle,” but will have “a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”

“It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence,’ ” the ministry charged.

Shortly afterward, Beijing announced that it would launch “targeted military operations” around Taiwan.

Pelosi on Tuesday explained her reasoning behind the trip with some unveiled shots of her own, accusing Beijing’s leaders of doing everything they can — economically, diplomatically, militarily and even through cyberattacks — to punish Taiwan for its enduring resistance to Chinese rule.

“In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” Pelosi wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

That message of democratic solidarity, she added, is even more urgent in the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of a peaceful Ukraine earlier in the year.

“As Russia wages its premeditated, illegal war against Ukraine, killing thousands of innocents — even children — it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats,” she wrote.

Pelosi’s place in history is already assured. She was the first woman to lead any party in Congress, and in ascending to the Speakership in 2007 became the highest-ranking woman in U.S. history — a distinction surpassed only last year when Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president.

Over that span, Pelosi shepherded the passage of historic legislation, including ObamaCare, an economic stimulus package in response to the Great Recession and the Wall Street reforms that followed that financial collapse. More recently, she oversaw both impeachments of President Trump, and launched the select committee that’s now investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Her shift this week to take on China promises to extend that legacy well beyond domestic policy and into the realm of foreign diplomacy. Binder, of Brookings, said it has highlighted the fact that congressional legislators can play a crucial role in areas typically reserved for the executive branch.

“In a word, their actions can be consequential for public affairs far beyond the halls of Congress,” she said.

Pelosi’s outspoken campaign against China’s despots, launched with her 1991 visit to Tiananmen Square, hardly ended there. In the years since, the Speaker has also condemned Chinese abuses against pro-democracy activists across Hong Kong and Tibet; she’s pressed Chinese leaders directly to release political prisoners; she’s met a number of times with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet; and most recently, she fiercely denounced Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group in China’s western-most province, labeling it a genocide.

Pelosi’s show of solidarity with Taiwan this week has been met with overwhelming support on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers in both parties have cheered her defiance of Beijing, even as it ruffles feathers at the White House.

“I can see how it could create some tension in the region,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). “But I was telling some people the other night: Don't get concerned about it. I don't think anybody's trying to create an international incident.

“If I had anything to say to the Chinese leadership it would just be: Be cool."

Republicans are also on board. Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), 26 GOP senators issued a statement Tuesday praising her decision.

“She has every right to go,” McConnell later told reporters.