Thursday, September 28, 2023

Texas House of Representatives approves impeachment of State Attorney Ken Paxton

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The Republican-led Texas House of Representatives on Saturday impeached state Attorney General Ken Paxton on charges of bribery and breach of public trust, a sudden, historic blow to a fellow Republican who became a star. conservative legal movement despite years of scandals and alleged wrongdoings.

The vote results in Paxton’s immediate suspension from office pending the results of the state Senate trial, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott the power to appoint someone else to act as Texas’ top attorney on an interim basis.

The 121-23 vote represents a heavy toll for one of the Republican Party’s best-known legal fighters, who petitioned the Supreme Court in 2020 to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory over Donald Trump. This makes Paxton only the third official to be impeached in the nearly 200-year history of Texas.

Paxton, 60, criticized the move after many of his fellow Republicans voted to impeach him, and his office cited internal reports that found no wrongdoing.

Paxton said, “This day’s horrific spectacle in the Texas House of Representatives confirms that the slanderous impeachment conspiracy against me was never intended to be fair or just.” “From the beginning it was a politically motivated farce.”

The FBI has been investigating Paxton for years over allegations that he used his position to help a donor and he was indicted separately in 2015 on securities fraud charges, though he has yet to stand trial. His party had long been silent on the allegations, but that changed this week when 60 Republicans, including Texas House Speaker Dad Phelan, voted to impeach him.

“No one person should be above the law, least of all the chief of law enforcement in the state of Texas,” said Rep. David Spiller, a Republican member of the committee investigating Paxton, in his opening remarks. Another Republican member of the panel, Charlie Gerren, said without elaborating that Paxton contacted some lawmakers before the vote and threatened them with political “consequences”.

Lawmakers favoring Paxton tried to discredit the investigation, pointing out that it was contract investigators, not panel members, who interviewed witnesses. He also said that many investigators had voted in the Democratic primary, tainting the impeachment process, and that they had little time to review the evidence.

“I think it could be a political weapon,” Rep. Tony Tinderholt, one of the most conservative members of the State House, said before the vote. Republican Rep. John Smithie likened the proceedings to “a Saturday mob about to lynch someone”.

Paxton is automatically suspended from office pending trial in the Senate. Final removal would require two-thirds of the Senate, of which Paxton’s wife Angela is a member.


Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

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