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Texas House Impeaches Attorney General Ken Paxton—A Key Trump Defender

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Topline

The Texas House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton—a Republican and loyal supporter of Donald Trump—on Saturday, removing him from office and placing his fate with the Texas Senate following a months-long investigation into his alleged criminal activity.

Key Facts

The Texas House of Representatives voted 121-23 to impeach Paxton, immediately suspending him from his job, and Senate will now decide whether he will be permanently thrown from office—and any future Texas elected office—over charges of bribery, abuse of office and obstruction.

It now moves to the Texas Senate—where Paxton’s wife Angela is a member—for a trial where a tw0-thirds majority must support removing Paxton.

Paxton responded on Twitter, calling his impeachment “illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust.”

Earlier Saturday Trump, who referred to Paxton as “one of the most hard-working and effective” attorney generals, criticized the impeachment vote—which he called “ELECTION INTERFERENCE!”—in a series of Truth Social posts Saturday, indicating he “will fight” any Republican who votes to impeach Paxton.

The Texas House General Investigating Committee filed 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton Thursday, which alleges Paxton misused public funds, accepted bribes, made false statements and abused public trust, among other charges.

Paxton claimed the charges against him are based on “hearsay and gossip” during a press conference Friday, and called for his supporters to show up to the statehouse and protest the vote.

Crucial Quote

A spokesperson for House Speaker Dade Phelan—whom Paxton called to resign earlier this week—told the New York Times: “The attorney general appears to have routinely abused his powers for personal gain and exhibited blatant disregard for the ethical and legal propriety.”

Chief Critic

Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the state’s Republican party, called the impeachment vote a “sham,” adding, “It is based on allegations already litigated by voters, led by a liberal speaker trying to undermine his conservative adversaries.” Donald Trump Jr. called the vote a “disgrace” and said, “MAGA stands with [Paxton] against this RINO/Dem led witch hunt!!!”

Surprising Fact

If impeached, Paxton would become the state’s third official to be removed by the legislature. The last was District Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975, after he was accused of misusing public funds and for presiding over cases that involved his financial partners. Democratic Gov. James Ferguson was impeached in 1917, after he was charged with the misapplication of public funds.

Key Background

Paxton faces impeachment six months after he was reelected by more than 10% of the vote over his Democratic opponent Rochelle Garza. An investigation by the House committee into Paxton stems from a lawsuit in which former staffers accused the attorney general of retaliation after they claimed he took part in criminal acts. He agreed to pay a $3.3 million settlement in February, which he requested state budget writers to fund. The charges also involve his relationship with Nate Paul, an Austin-based real estate developer who claimed there was a conspiracy that some of his properties—worth $200 million—were being stolen. The House committee alleges Paxton worked to interfere in lawsuits involving Paul and issued legal opinions to benefit Paul. The committee also claims Paul hired a woman Paxton allegedly had an affair with, in exchange for legal support and payment toward renovations to Paxton’s home.

Tangent

Paxton has been involved in other controversies in recent years. In 2020, Paxton filed a lawsuit against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin accusing each state of “ignoring federal and state election laws,” in an effort to overturn the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. Two years later, Paxton challenged the Justice Department’s raid on Trump’s home in Mar-A-Lago and accused the Biden Administration of “weaponizing the DOJ.” In 2015, Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges—which Paxton admitted to doing—though the charges have yet to go to trial. He faces a sentence of up to 99 years in prison for those charges. That same year, prosecutors claimed Paxton accepted $100,000 to offer legal advice to a company that was under investigation by Paxton’s office.

Further Reading

Texas House Committee Recommends Impeaching Attorney General Ken Paxton (Forbes)

Texas Attorney General Urges House Speaker To Resign After Video Shows ‘Apparent Intoxication’ During House Session (Forbes)



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