National Security

DHS hires outside law firm for help with potential Mayorkas impeachment

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a news conference in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, on new border enforcement measures to limit unlawful migration, expand pathways for legal immigration, and increase border security. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has hired a law firm to aid in responding to the potential GOP House-led impeachment of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the department said Friday.

The contract, signed with New-York based firm Debevoise & Plimpton, comes a week after a second article of impeachment was filed by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and represents a change in approach for an agency that had previously not assigned any staff to the topic.

“The Department of Homeland Security has retained outside counsel to help ensure the Department’s vital mission is not interrupted by the unprecedented, unjustified, and partisan impeachment efforts by some Members of Congress, who have already taken steps to initiate proceedings,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement.

“DHS will continue prioritizing its work to protect our country from terrorism, respond to natural disasters, and secure our borders while responding appropriately to the over 70 Congressional committees and subcommittees that have oversight of DHS.” 

The contract, first reported by Politico, will tap the firm to help respond to any eventual House inquiry.

Republicans have yet to take any action on the resolutions, but House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other Republican leaders have pledged what could be lengthy investigations ahead of an eventual impeachment.

DHS doesn’t have any staff on hand with expertise in such a matter, an agency official told The Hill, and said the scale of legal assistance needed will depend on how the GOP decides to proceed with its probe. Still, the department declined to outline other financial details of the retainer.

The impeachment of Cabinet officials is exceedingly rare and hasn’t occurred since 1876, when Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached for taking kickbacks.

The Republicans leading the charge to impeach Mayorkas have accused him of lying to Congress when he’s asserted to lawmakers that DHS has maintained operational control over the border.

Biggs held a forum this week at the Heritage Foundation to discuss the potential impeachment. 

But he’s facing some resistance from within his own party, largely from fellow Mayorkas critics who feel it’s essential to launch a thorough investigation of the secretary through committees of jurisdiction before such a matter proceeds to the House floor.

The right wing of the House GOP has floated impeaching a number of Biden cabinet officials and even President Biden himself.

Much of the case against Mayorkas, however, rests on a law that primarily laid out requirements for installing fencing along the border but also created a standard dictating the “prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States.”

“The Secure Fence Act of 2006 requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to take all actions ‘necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain operational control over the entire international land and maritime borders of the United States,’” Biggs said in a statement.

“Instead of taking all actions ‘necessary and appropriate’ to achieve operational control of the border, Secretary Mayorkas is facilitating illegal immigration through the nonenforcement of laws we have already on the books and by willfully reversing necessary border policies.”

This story was updated at 4:38 p.m.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Alejandro Mayorkas Andy Biggs DHS Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mayorkas impeachment

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