Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Texas House of Representatives votes to remove Attorney General Ken Paxton

The Texas House of Representatives voted Saturday to remove Attorney General Ken Paxton on charges including bribery and breach of public trust, a sudden and historic rebuke of a fellow Republican who has emerged as a star of the conservative legal movement despite years of scandals. In emerged and the alleged crime.

The vote triggers the immediate suspension of Paxton from office pending the results of the state Senate trial and authorizes Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to appoint someone else as Texas’ top attorney in the interim.

The vote marks a sharp decline for one of the Republican Party’s most prominent legal combatants, who in 2020 asked the US Supreme Court to reverse President Joe Biden’s election loss to Donald Trump. This makes Paxton only the third incumbent official to be impeached in the nearly 200-year history of Texas.

I am deeply grateful for the support of the millions of Texans who believe that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical and grossly unjust. I look forward to an expedited resolution in the Texas Senate, where I am confident the process will be fair and just. pic.twitter.com/fEiAroA2DW

—Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) May 27, 2023

Paxton, 60, has called the impeachment process “political theater” based on “conversation and gossip, twisting long-discredited claims” and an attempt to disenfranchise voters who re-elected him in November . On Friday, he asked his supporters to “come peacefully to Capitol Hill tomorrow to make their voices heard.”

As the proceedings began, Paxton’s supporters mingled with visitors in the public gallery of the House, eager only to see the government in action.

“It’s a coup,” said Kathy Glass of Houston, who waited in line for an hour to get a seat. “Texas voters were aware of these allegations,” said Dimitri Nichols of Austin.

In opening remarks, Rep. Charlie Gerren, a member of the committee investigating Paxton, said the attorney general had called lawmakers and threatened political “consequences.” As the charges against Paxton were read, some lawmakers shook their heads. The impeachment debate is expected to last for four hours, followed by closing remarks and a vote.

Paxton has been under FBI investigation for years over allegations that he used his position to help a donor and was separately indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, though he has yet to stand trial. Has happened. Until this week, his fellow Republicans had taken a low-key stance on the allegations.

Impeachment requires a simple majority in the House. That means only a tiny fraction of his 85 Republicans would have to join the 64 Democrats in voting against him.

In the event of impeachment, Paxton would be removed from office pending a Senate trial, and would rely on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott will name an interim replacement. Final removal would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which also included Paxton’s wife, Angela.

Texas’s top elected Republican was remarkably quiet on Paxton this week. But on Saturday both Trump and US Senator Ted Cruz came to his defense, with the senator calling the impeachment process “a travesty” and saying the attorney general’s legal problems should be left to the courts.

“Free Ken Paxton,” Trump wrote on his Truth social media platform, adding that if House Republicans move forward with the process, “I will fight you.”

Abbott, who praised Paxton when she was sworn in for a third term in January, is among those who have remained silent. The governor spoke at a Memorial Day service in the House about three hours before the impeachment proceedings began. Republican House Speaker Dede Fallon also attended, but the two exchanged few words and Abbott left without comment to reporters.

In a sense, Paxton’s political crisis came very quickly: The House committee investigation came to light on Tuesday, and lawmakers released 20 articles of impeachment on Thursday.

But for Paxton’s detractors, the rebuke came too late.

In 2014, he admitted to violating Texas securities law, and a year later he was charged with securities fraud in his hometown near Dallas, accused of defrauding investors in a tech startup. He pleaded not guilty to two felonies, which carry a sentence of between five and 99 years.

He opened a legal defense fund and accepted $100,000 from an executive whose company was being investigated by Paxton’s office for Medicaid fraud. Another $50,000 was donated by an Arizona retiree whose son Paxton was later hired for a high-ranking position, but was soon fired after displaying child pornography in a meeting. In 2020, Paxton intervened in a Colorado mountain community where a donor and college roommate from Texas were facing eviction from their lakeside home under coronavirus orders.

But what ultimately fueled the impeachment was Paxton’s relationship with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul.

In 2020, eight high-level advisers told the FBI that they were concerned that Paxton was abusing his position to help Paul in relation to the promoter’s unproven claims that there was an elaborate scheme to steal $200 million from his properties. The conspiracy was going on. The FBI searched Paul’s home in 2019, but he was not charged and denied any wrongdoing. Paxton also told members of his staff that he was having an affair with a woman, who it was later revealed worked for Paul.

The impeachment trial accuses Paxton of attempting to interfere with criminal trials and issuing legal opinions to benefit Paul. The bribery charges allege that Paul hired a woman with whom Paxton had an affair in exchange for legal help and paid for expensive repairs to the Attorney General’s home.

Chris Hilton, a senior attorney in Paxton’s office, said Friday that the attorney general paid for all repairs and renovations.

Other charges, including lying to investigators, predate Paxton’s pending securities fraud indictment.

Four associates who reported on Paxton to the FBI subsequently filed suit under the Texas whistleblower law, and in February the prosecutor agreed to settle the case for $3.3 million. The House committee said it was Paxton who sought legislative approval for the payments that prompted its investigation.

The panel said, “Were it not for Paxton’s own request for a tax-funded settlement for his misconduct, Paxton would not be facing impeachment.”

Nation World News Desk
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