An Anticlimactic End to Mayorkas Impeachment | Crooked Media
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April 17, 2024
What A Day
An Anticlimactic End to Mayorkas Impeachment

In This Episode

  • On Wednesday, the Senate moved to dismiss two articles of impeachment against Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of the border. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats needed “to set a precedent that impeachment should never be used to settle policy disagreements.” Congressional reporter Matt Laslo breaks down the vibes on Capitol Hill.
  • And in headlines: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned Israel that even the “tiniest invasion” on their part would provoke a “massive” response, President Joe Biden may not appear on Ohio’s ballot this November, and Arizona Republicans defeated another effort to repeal the state’s near-total abortion ban.


Show Notes:





Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, April 18th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The pod where we have a new thing to worry about falling out of the sky, space junk. NASA confirmed that the object that tore through a Naples, Florida man’s home was debris from the space station. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It had been floating around up there for three years. 


Juanita Tolliver: Absolutely. The federal government is remodeling my home if this happens to me. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’m getting a farmhouse sink out of it. I don’t know about you. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Columbia University’s president was on the hill for a hearing related to anti-Semitism on the university’s campus. Plus, Iran warns Israel of a massive response if it acts after last week’s attack. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, the Senate moved quickly to dismiss two articles of impeachment against Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday. The whole trial, if you can call it that, lasted about three hours. Here’s Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking at a press conference after. 


[clip of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer] What we saw today was a microcosm of this impeachment since day one. [?], frivolous, political and we felt very strongly that we had to set a precedent that impeachment should never be used to settle policy disagreements. 


Juanita Tolliver: It was an anti-climactic end to House Republicans’ longshot bid to oust Mayorkas. You remember they had to vote twice on his impeachment in February. The first one failed because too many Republicans defected. Now it’s all over and Mayorkas keeps his job. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Which I mean should have been the case from the beginning. We did not need–


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –to go down this whole sideshow. 


Juanita Tolliver: Nope. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But here we are. I wish Chuck Schumer had added unserious to his remarks there. [laughter] Just add it to the list because that is what this was. But anyways, Juanita, can you explain how this all went down for us? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, on Tuesday, Johnson and other House Republicans officially walked over the two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the Senate. Congressional reporter Matt Laslo was there. He’s a contributor for Wired and has been reporting on the Hill for nearly two decades. He says despite the somber nature of the proceeding, everyone, even Republicans, knew that there was almost no chance that the democratically controlled Senate would allow the impeachment proceeding to continue. 


[clip of Matt Laslo] This was nothing. Republicans kept clinging to it as like look this is some action on the border. But even then, when you pressed a little harder, they knew this was nothing and going nowhere. 


Juanita Tolliver: Laslo says if anything, the whole impeachment process was more about the 2024 election and scoring political points. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. As has been very clear to many of us on this program for this whole time, but I’m curious about the reaction from the House Republicans. This would seem to be yet another embarrassing defeat for Republican House speaker Mike Johnson, whose job looks to be increasingly on the rocks these days thanks to the party’s hard right. But what’s the vibe over there? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, at least according to Laslo, just the photo op of walking the articles of impeachment to the Senate was enough for some House Republicans. And he says that speaks to the ways impeachment has become increasingly obsolete. 


[clip of Matt Laslo] These lawmakers, they don’t really believe what they’re doing. They’re just looking to dunk on TV every chance they can get. And watching Fox News today after the impeachment went down of Mayorkas, they’re not really covering it. They will on some of the primetime shows or whatever. But Republicans didn’t take this serious, they saw it as an end. They saw it as a way to take a chink off of Biden’s armor. And that’s where it’s sad, because impeachment is supposed to be the tool of last resort. 


Juanita Tolliver: Laslo says the question these days is–


[clip of Matt Laslo] Is Congress serious? Does Congress matter? And I think they keep proving to themselves and the rest of us that they themselves are becoming as obsolete as these tools that they keep using. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Thank you, Matt, for just underscoring this point. Tools that they keep using and abusing, quite honestly. And this is not the last that we are going to hear about impeachment from this Congress either. You know, they are not going to let this rest. House Republicans still seem pretty determined to find a way to impeach President Joe Biden before the election, even if they have zero reasons as of now to do it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Zero reasons, zero evidence. That’s exactly right. On Tuesday, the White House declined an invitation from the House Oversight Committee to testify in its impeachment inquiry hearing. In a letter obtained by CNN, the special counsel for the president wrote that Biden had, quote, “done nothing wrong” and accused the committee’s chair, James Comer, of Kentucky, of spreading disinformation. And you’ll remember, too, that the Republican star witness in their investigation into Biden and his family, an ex FBI informant, has been arrested and charged for fabricating a bribery scheme involving the Bidens. But that’s not stopping Republicans. Comer told Fox News on Wednesday that impeachment is still on the table and that criminal referrals could come quote, “within weeks.” And that led to this testy exchange during Wednesday’s oversight committee between Comer and the ranking Democrat, Maryland’s Jamie Raskin. 


[clip of Jamie Raskin] You have not identified a single crime. Well, what is the crime that you want to impeach Joe Biden for and keep this nonsense going? Tell America right now. You can have the rest of my time. 


[clip of James Comer] Well you’re you’re about to find out very soon. 


[clip of Jamie Raskin] What is the crime?


[clip of James Comer] You’re about to find out very soon. 


[clip of Jamie Raskin] Name it. 


Juanita Tolliver: I hate that Congress sounds like an episode of The Real Housewives, but I–


Priyanka Aribindi: I know. 


Juanita Tolliver: –also am like Jamie Raskin made it plain. Just tell everybody. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: What your evidence is. They don’t have any. 


Priyanka Aribindi: They have none. 


Juanita Tolliver: And according to Laslo, Comer even told him he knows there’s nothing there when it comes to Biden, that it’s more about vengeance for the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump after the insurrection. 


[clip of Matt Laslo] I pushed him, you know, way at the start of the impeachment of Biden. And I got him to admit that yeah, because they went after Trump for that second impeachment. That’s the reason we as a Republican Party have to carry through on our end. 


Juanita Tolliver: Laslo says he was at the Capitol that day on January 6th, and he still says he can’t understand how Republicans seem to have just moved past it. We’ll keep following this story as Republicans continue their unfounded impeachment effort against President Biden. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Tensions appear to be growing in the Middle East amid fears of a regional war. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday warned Israel that even the quote, “tiniest invasion” on their part would provoke a quote, “massive response.” This comes after Iran attacked Israel over the weekend, launching hundreds of missiles and drones on Tel Aviv. The attack was in retaliation for Israel’s initial attack on an Iranian embassy in Syria earlier this month. Israel’s military chief seemed unbothered by Raisi’s remarks, saying that Israel will respond to the attack. But he stopped short of providing any details on how or when that would happen. Also on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with officials from Germany and Britain. They are two of several Israeli allies urging Netanyahu to de-escalate the situation. According to the Associated Press, Netanyahu told his cabinet, quote, “we will make our decisions ourselves. The state of Israel will do whatever is necessary to defend itself.” Meanwhile, the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza continues. The UN Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, released a report this week saying that more than 13,000 children have been killed in Gaza since October 7th. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s possible that Joe Biden will not appear on ballots this November in the crucial state of Ohio. At issue is a technicality in Ohio law that says a candidate has to be certified 90 days before the election. Doing the math, that’s August 7th, but Biden won’t be officially certified until August 19th during the Democratic National Convention. Last week a Democratic elections attorney in Ohio proposed to officials that Biden be provisionally certified before the deadline. But on Monday, that idea was shot down by Ohio’s Republican attorney general in a letter to the secretary of state. Democrats still have a few options to make sure President Biden is on the ballot in the state. One option, sue. The other, hope that the Republican controlled legislature passes an exemption. They actually did in 2020, when both Democrats and Republicans had their conventions too late for the candidates to be officially certified in time. Meanwhile, the president faces the same issue in Washington state and Alabama. Washington’s Secretary of state said last week that they’ll accept a provisional certification, while Alabama lawmakers advanced a bill Wednesday to make sure Biden can be on their state’s ballot. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Even Alabama is letting him– 


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –stay. [laughter] So this is pretty diabolical by Ohio, but at this point, we have to know we are dealing with the worst people. Like we got to be ahead of this, everybody. We got to look at the books beforehand. We got to know the rules. Arizona Republicans defeated another effort to repeal the state’s near-total abortion ban. The draconian 1864 law was revived last week after a ruling by the state’s supreme Court. And on Wednesday, Democratic State Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton tried to fast track her bill to repeal it. But Republican leaders in the state House shut down her motion. That led to a round of applause by anti-abortion activists who packed the audience, as posted on X by the DNC. [clip of applause and cheers]


Juanita Tolliver: Talk about diabolical though like wow.


Priyanka Aribindi: Just sick people. This was the second attempt by Arizona Dems to repeal the law, and it will not be the last. Democratic state Representative Lupe Contreras told the Arizona Republic newspaper, quote, “this is not going away. We’ll bring it back to the floor again.” 


Juanita Tolliver: Columbia University’s president Minouche Shafik sat in front of a U.S. congressional committee on Wednesday and strongly condemned antisemitism. It’s the latest round of antisemitism hearings where lawmakers question presidents of some of the country’s most prestigious universities. House lawmakers accused Shafik of failing to protect Jewish students since the October 7th attacks in Israel. Shafik defended the university’s efforts to protect its students and agreed that the school was facing a, quote, “moral crisis.” 


[clip of Minouche Shafik Columbia strives to be a community free of discrimination and hate in all its forms, and we condemn the anti-Semitism that is so pervasive today. 


Juanita Tolliver: Meanwhile, dozens of students staged an encampment on Columbia’s campus to signal solidarity for Palestinians in Gaza. Take a listen to one of the students on campus who spoke with the news outlet Middle East Eye.


[clip of unidentified Columbia University student] As the genocide only gets worse, so too is the erosion of democracy across the country and and on college campuses. And this has a violent effect. In fact, we saw the arrest of students at Vanderbilt. We are probably going to be arrested shortly here today at Columbia University. 


Juanita Tolliver: And on the other side of the country, students at the University of Southern California protested their university’s decision this week to ban its 2024 valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, from speaking at this year’s graduation ceremony. Tabassum is a first generation South Asian Muslim student who minored in ‘resistance to genocide’. She told the LA times, quote, “The university has betrayed me and caved in to a campaign of hatred.” 


Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, for the first time in 70 years, the NBA announced Wednesday that it is banning a player for life. Jontay Porter, a power forward for the Toronto Raptors, illegally participated in gambling on his own games. A league investigation found that he bet on NBA games while playing in one of the minor leagues. Porter also shared confidential information with bettors and intentionally limited his participation in games. For example, he claimed to suffer from an illness during a game and only played for three minutes, which is so crazy. 


Juanita Tolliver: Just wild. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It is just the latest in a string of controversies surrounding sports betting and its effect on professional leagues. As a reminder, NBA players are not allowed to make wagers on NBA games. It is like the oldest rule in the book for these–


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –sports leagues. Come on. 


Juanita Tolliver: It feels like a pretty basic rule. But also, I’m looking at Mr. Porter like, why would you like fake injuries three minutes into a game? Like find a better bet if you’re going to do this that actually is about increasing your stats. Like, I don’t know. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Um. That’s like the definition of not betting on yourself, which I don’t think is what we should aspire to. And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, get a better party planner for the Democrats, and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just about Jontay Porter stats like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And watch out for space junk. 


Juanita Tolliver: Oh my gosh. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Cover those heads everybody. You never know. 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m a very jumpy girl anyway, but if some shit comes crashing through my upstairs into my down, I’m freaking out. I’m like, losing my mind, so I don’t know. How would you react?


Priyanka Aribindi: If the fates have it out for you that bad like, what have you done? What kind of karma is coming to you? I just want to know what you did?


Juanita Tolliver: Okay Final destination. [laughter] [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Leo Duran, Greg Walters and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.