Texas Attorney General’s Impeachment Heads to State Senate

May 30, 2023

The impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), which was passed in the GOP-led state House on Saturday, heads next to the GOP-led state Senate for trial.

The state House voted, triggering Paxton’s suspension pending trial, after its Investigative Committee unanimously ruled Thursday to issue 20 articles of impeachment.

The issuance of the articles, which include bribery, unfitness for office, disregard of official duty and abuse of public trust, comes as Paxton is under an FBI investigation for corruption. He is accused of using his office to assist a donor.

While his fellow Republicans in the state House joined in an overwhelming 121-23 vote to impeach, Paxton and his allies are hoping that more conservative members of the state Senate—including Paxton’s own wife, Sen. Angela Paxton (R)—will acquit him. That’s even as the bribery charges are linked to an extramarital affair. 

Further, the state Senate is led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who, like Paxton, closely links himself with former President Trump. The pair have driven a right-wing policy push for the last decade. 

Amid the House impeachment, Paxton criticized the committee’s investigation as “corrupt,” secretive and conducted too quickly for his lawyers to mount an adequate defense. Paxton also called state House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) a “liberal.” 

The state Senate will set its own rules for trial, including whether to call witnesses. It will also choose which reports and documents it will consider. Potentially, it could also weigh whether to excuse Angela Paxton from voting due to a conflict of interest, though Patrick has already suggested that all 31 senators would be allowed to vote without exception.

Angela Paxton has declined to comment on the impeachment or the upcoming trial, which is scheduled to begin no later than August 28.

Only twice before in Texas’ history has its state House impeached a sitting official: Gov. James Ferguson (D) in 1917 and state Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975.

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