Margaret Brennan, Speaker Johnson spar over Mayorkas impeachment effort

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CBS News “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan sparred with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) in an interview that aired Sunday over the House GOP’s efforts to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, pressing the Louisiana Republican over why lawmakers would boot the person they need to negotiate with over border policy.

Brennan, speaking with Johnson during his trip to Eagle Pass, Texas last week, suggested Congress needs Mayorkas’ help to improve the situation at the border.

“So these- but these are very, very real and immediate issues, what you’re describing, it is a crisis. So don’t you need the help of the Homeland Security Secretary, instead of trying to impeach him?” Brennan asked Johnson.

“We’ve been asking…Secretary Mayorkas since he took office, to enforce the law, to do his job, and he’s done exactly the opposite. He’s testified untruthfully before Congress, repeatedly” Johnson responded.

Brennan interjected to ask Johnson, “But why focus the congressional resources on going ahead with an impeachment when they could be dealing with the actual issues here on the ground?”

“Our…Homeland Security Committee has done its job,” he responded. “They have a constitutional responsibility, a legal responsibility, to investigate what is happening with the agency that they have oversight for.  They’ve done that for a year, very methodically, carefully, in detail. And they’ve documented all that.”

Johnson was referring to the House Homeland Security Committee’s ongoing investigation into Mayorkas over allegations the secretary displayed “dereliction of duty,” in his handling of the border. The committee has threatened to introduce another resolution to boot Mayorkas from his role and will begin a series of impeachment hearings this week that could lead to such action.

Johnson told Brennan he believes Mayorkas is an “abject failure,” while noting it’s “not because of impotence.”

“I believe he has done this intentionally. I think these are intentional policy decisions that he’s made. And I think there must be accountability for that. And I can tell you, the vast majority of Americans agree with us on that point,” Johnson said.

Brennan pushed back, arguing it “doesn’t sound very hopeful,” given Mayorkas is the main leader from the Biden administration involved in negotiations with the Senate to pass a border policy deal.

“Secretary Mayorkas is not a good faith negotiating partner,” Johnson said. “He is unwilling to enforce existing federal law. Why would we believe that he would do any new provision? He’s lied to Congress repeatedly. He’s lied to me personally, under oath.”

Brennan asked Johnson what Mayorkas has lied about to which he said, “He’s stood in front of my committee on multiple occasions and insisted that the border is closed and secure when everyone in America knows it’s not true. He’s not a good faith partner —.”

“Well, that’s also a semantic argument, you know that, because —,” Brennan interjected.

“No, no, that’s a matter of objective fact. And he has lied to Congress repeatedly,” Johnson said, to which Brennan responded, “Well, that is a matter of semantics in terms of people being apprehended, as you know, coming here, and once they’re apprehended, then say they want to claim asylum.”

“Secretary Mayorkas has been to the border, he’s talked to the same officials that we have. He knows that this border is not secure. No one here believes it,” Johnson said, adding later the workers he met with at the border are doing “heroic work” in an “impossible situation” created by Mayorkas.

Mayorkas has faced scrutinity from the right over his leadership for more than a year, including from Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas), who filed articles of impeachment against the DHS chief on the first day of the 118th Congress.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) attempted to force a vote on his impeachment last November, but later withdrew the vote after she claimed she was assured by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-Texas) the House would move forward with impeachment proceedings.

As Brennan noted, Mayorkas has been involved with negotiations with the Senate for weeks to pass a bipartisan border policy deal that would also unlock funding for Ukraine.

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