In a stunning development, the Texas House of Representatives has voted to impeach Ken Paxton, the state’s Republican attorney general. This move immediately removes him from office pending a trial in the Senate. Paxton is charged with using his position for personal gain and favoring a campaign donor. The last time a statewide office holder in Texas was impeached was more than a century ago.
The impeachment vote, which had bipartisan support, signifies a significant blow to Paxton’s political career. It was preceded by a four-hour proceeding in the Texas Capitol, where lawmakers presented compelling evidence of Paxton’s alleged misconduct. The final vote of 121 members in favor of impeachment exceeded the required number, with almost every Democrat and a majority of Republicans supporting the action.
Following the vote, Governor Greg Abbott has the option to appoint an interim attorney general until the Senate trial takes place. However, his intentions regarding this appointment remain unknown. The Senate trial will be overseen by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a conservative aligned with many of Paxton’s supporters. A two-thirds majority vote is required for a conviction in the Senate, where Republicans hold the advantage.
The rapid progression of events has left many lawmakers and political observers in disbelief. Only a few days ago, few were aware of the significant investigation into Paxton’s actions, let alone the possibility of an impeachment vote. His fellow Republicans, who introduced the articles of impeachment, portrayed Paxton as a corrupt public official who could not be trusted. They emphasized his alleged crimes and contrasted them with the integrity of those who stood against him.
In response to the impeachment, Paxton released a statement condemning the process as illegal, unethical, and unjust. He expressed confidence in the Texas Senate to provide a fair and just resolution. Notably, Paxton has allies in the conservative-dominated Senate, including his wife and personal friends.
The articles of impeachment against Paxton highlight various abuses of his office, including accepting bribes, disregarding his official duty, obstructing justice, making false statements, and betraying public trust. Many of the allegations revolve around his alleged favoritism towards campaign donor Nate Paul, a real estate investor. The articles detail Paxton’s interventions in legal disputes and his hiring of a lawyer at Paul’s request, among other actions benefiting the donor.
Despite the fierce support Paxton has enjoyed from prominent national Republicans, including former President Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, the impeachment proceedings have proceeded. They argue that the impeachment is politically motivated and serves the interests of Democrats. However, the evidence presented during the investigation convinced lawmakers that action was necessary to preserve the integrity of the office.
Supporters and opponents of Paxton filled the House gallery during the proceedings. The impeachment vote was followed by protests outside the Capitol, where individuals clashed over their views on the situation. Critics argue that the impeachment may not have a lasting impact on Texas politics, while others believe it was a necessary step to uphold the principles of accountability and justice.
The next steps involve a trial in the Senate, where Paxton will have an opportunity to defend himself against the charges brought forth by the Texas House. The outcome of the trial will determine the future of Paxton’s political career and the impact it may have on the state of Texas.