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Former DHS officials interviewed in Mayorkas impeachment inquiry

Former DHS officials interviewed in Mayorkas impeachment inquiry

The GOP-led House Homeland Security Committee has conducted two closed-door interviews with two former Homeland Security officials, as the committee prepares to move forward with articles of impeachment against Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas next week, according to two officials briefed on the matter.

The two former officials are Mark Morgan, who served as former commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection under President Donald Trump, and Rodney Scott, who served as chief of the Border Patrol briefly under Mayorkas until August 2021, and was appointed by former President Trump in 2020.

PHOTO: In this June 14, 2023, file photo, Rodney Scott, former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, testifies during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing to 'Examine Secretary Mayorkas' Dereliction of Duty,' in Cannon Building in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: In this June 14, 2023, file photo, Rodney Scott, former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, testifies during the House Homeland Security Committee hearing to 'Examine Secretary Mayorkas' Dereliction of Duty,' in Cannon Building in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: In this June 25, 2020, file photo, Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, testifies during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams, Pool via Getty Images)
PHOTO: In this June 25, 2020, file photo, Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, testifies during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams, Pool via Getty Images)

The previously unreported testimony comes as Democrats and some Republicans, have blasted the process by which the impeachment inquiry has unfolded, saying the effort to remove Mayorkas involves a difference over policy and doesn't meet the constitutional standard for impeachment.

MORE: Mayorkas impeachment effort criticized, called 'policy dispute' by group of Democrats

A third closed-door interview with former Trump Acting ICE Director Tom Homan was scheduled for Thursday, but was canceled, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Scott, now works for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Morgan is a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, but both said they appeared in their personal capacity.

PHOTO: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas holds a press conference at a U.S. Border Patrol station, on Jan. 8, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas.  (John Moore/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas holds a press conference at a U.S. Border Patrol station, on Jan. 8, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images, FILE)

MORE: Republicans rehash familiar talking points in the DHS Secretary Mayorkas impeachment hearing

Both Democrats and Republicans were allowed to participate in questioning Morgan and Scott, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee slammed the process.

"It is telling that Chairman [Mark] Green is convening secret, closed-door interviews in collusion with he Heritage Foundation in a last-ditch effort to boost his non-existent argument for impeachment," the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a statement to ABC News. "The fact that they would rather hear from former Trump officials turned glorified Fox News talking heads – while refusing Secretary Mayorkas's offer to testify – reeks of desperation. I think this will just add to our evidence that this impeachment process has been nothing but sham from the start – a political stunt."

The Heritage Foundation did not respond to an ABC News request for comment.

Chairman Mark Green, a Tennessee Republican, said the effort in hosting Morgan and Scott was "to gather testimony specifically related to Secretary Mayorkas' handling of the border crisis since coming into office."

"These interviews followed nine previous transcribed interviews with Border Patrol chief patrol agents responsible for the southwest border sectors, and were conducted by the Republican and Democratic staffs of both the House Homeland Security and House Oversight Committees," Green said.

Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat asked House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer during a hearing on Jan. 17, if the transcripts of the nine border patrol official interviews could be released to the public, but so far neither the Oversight Committee nor the Homeland Security Committee has released the full transcripts.

In his prepared remarks, Morgan said the Biden administration "immediately began to dismantle the network of tools, authorities and policies we had in place," according to his testimony. He called the effort "intentional."

PHOTO: House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green questions witnesses during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Jan 10, 2024. (Shawn Thew/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green questions witnesses during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Jan 10, 2024. (Shawn Thew/EPA via Shutterstock)

Morgan left the Department of Homeland Security on Inauguration Day 2021 and did not work with Mayorkas as secretary.

A lawyer for Morgan and Scott advised the men during the deposition to not answer any questions about their experiences and actions that predated the Biden administration, any potential campaign activity or involvement, or the involvement of The Heritage Foundation in the impeachment probe, according to a source familiar with the deposition.

The former officials sat for closed-door testimony, the same process in which House Republicans, including now Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green, objected to in 2019, when Democrats were holding impeachment hearings against former President Donald Trump.

"Transcribed interviews are a common practice when seeking in-depth testimony from expert witnesses in a non-public setting. It's pretty pathetic to see Democrats stooping to silly comparisons of their sham process in 2019 when the record of these proceedings clearly shows they were actively involved in all of the interviews scheduled by the Committee as part of the investigation into the chaos at our borders," Green said. "Desperation apparently leads to projection in this town."

Green said during the Trump impeachment inquiry in 2019 that "the American people deserve and demand transparency."

The Department of Homeland Security has said impeachment against the secretary is not legitimate, and that the secretary has been working with Congress in good faith to fix a "broken" immigration system.

The impeachment hearings are nothing but "politically-motivated" and are "lead by extremists" the DHS said in a memo released earlier this month.

There was also an exchange between the committee and the secretary on when to appear before the committee.

Mayorkas has been willing to testify before the committee, according to a letter obtained by ABC News last week, but not on the date Republicans offered because he was getting ready to host Mexican officials.

Chairman Green objected, saying Secretary Mayorkas had an obligation to the committee and that the date was set in stone, accusing DHS of stonewalling oversight efforts.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Scott and Morgan both say they appeared in their personal capacity.

Former DHS officials interviewed in Mayorkas impeachment inquiry originally appeared on abcnews.go.com