The Department of Homeland Security has hired an outside law firm — Debevoise & Plimpton — to assist in possible impeachment proceedings for Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as he potentially faces charges by House Republicans regarding his handling of the southern border.
"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 Friday. "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."
A DHS official tells CBS News the department has hired the firm for contracted work for the life of the congressional inquiry. Debevoise was chosen because of its expertise in impeachment and bipartisan experience in working with Congress on oversight.
The Justice Department recently advised that the contract with Debevoise qualifies as an appropriate expenditure for DHS.
DHS is trying to ensure that its mission isn't undermined by partisan attacks and that proceedings against Mayorkas are being handled by people with the appropriate expertise.
Mayorkas has not commented on this development, but asked about the impeachment inquiry last Thursday, he told reporters, "We will cooperate with this Congress, just as we did with the last Congress. I think that's our responsibility."
He conceded that "it will take time" to comply with the House's investigation. "I will spend that time as will others and we will also not compromise the time that we spend in fulfilling our mission."
A DHS senior official confirmed that Mayorkas has not yet met with his new outside counsel.
Only one cabinet member has ever been impeached, Secretary of War William Belknap. In 1876, Belknap, who served in President Ulysses S. Grant's administration, was accused of accepting bribes but was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.
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