On Saturday, the Texas House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, impeached the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, for crimes such as bribery and abuse of public trust.
This was a sharp, historic rebuke of a Republican official who became a conservative legal movement star despite years of controversy and alleged wrongdoing.
Upon being found guilty of impeachment, Paxton is immediately removed from office pending the outcome of a trial in the state Senate, and Republican Governor Greg Abbott is given the authority to name a different attorney general for Texas temporarily.
One of the GOP’s most prominent legal foes, who in 2020 sought the U.S. to intervene in the election, has abruptly fallen from grace with the 121-23 vote.
The Supreme Court will overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Donald Trump. In Texas’ nearly 200-year history, Paxton is now only the third sitting official to have been impeached.
Moments after numerous of his fellow partisans voted in favor of impeachment, Paxton, 60, denounced the action, and his office cited internal investigations that found no wrongdoing.
Paxton stated that the ridiculous impeachment scheme against me was never intended to be fair or just, according to the horrible spectacle in the Texas House today.
“From the start, it was a politically motivated sham.”
Paxton has been the subject of an FBI investigation amid claims that he used his position to assist a donor for years.
In addition, in 2015, he was also charged with securities fraud, though he has not yet gone to trial.
His party had long been silent on the charges, but this week 60 of the 85 Republicans in the House, including Speaker Dade Phelan, decided to put him on trial.
Republican Representative David Spiller, a member of the committee looking into Paxton, stated in the committee’s opening remarks that “no one should be above the law, least not the top law officer of the state of Texas.” Rep. Charlie Geren, a Republican committee member, stated without going into detail that Paxton had called some lawmakers before the vote and threatened them with political consequences.
Paxton-aligned lawmakers tried to cast doubt on the probe by pointing out that paid investigators, not panel members, questioned witnesses.
They said that the impeachment was tainted by the fact that some investigators participated in Democratic primaries and that they had little time to examine the material.
One of the most conservative members of the House, Rep. Tony Tinderholt, warned before the vote, “I perceive it could be political weaponization.” Rep. John Smithee, a Republican, likened the situation to “a Saturday mob out for an afternoon lynching.”
Paxton’s appointment is immediately put on hold during the ongoing Senate trial. A two-thirds majority vote in the Senate, where Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a senator, would be necessary for final dismissal.