The Texas House has overwhelmingly voted to impeach GOP state AG Ken Paxton on all 20 charges brought forth by the legislature committee investigating his years of wrongdoing.
Defying a last-minute appeal by former President Donald Trump, the Texas House voted overwhelmingly Saturday to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, temporarily removing him from office over allegations of misconduct that included bribery and abuse of office.
The vote to adopt the 20 articles of impeachment was 121-23.
The stunning vote came two days after an investigative committee unveiled the articles — and two days before the close of a biennial legislative session that saw significant right-wing victories, including a ban on transgender health care for minors and new restrictions on public universities’ diversity efforts.
The vote revealed substantial divisions within the Republican Party of Texas — the largest, richest and most powerful state GOP party in the United States. Although the party has won every statewide election for a quarter-century and has controlled both houses of the Legislature since 2003, it has deep underlying fissures, many of them exacerbated by Trump’s rise.
Few attorneys general have been as prominent as Paxton, who made a career of suing the Obama and Biden administrations. One of Trump’s closest allies in Texas, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Paxton unsuccessfully sued to challenge the 2020 presidential election results in four states.
Attention next shifts to the Texas Senate, which will conduct a trial with senators acting as jurors and designated House members presenting their case as impeachment managers.
Permanently removing Paxton from office and barring him from holding future elected office in Texas would require the support of two-thirds of senators.
Impeachment was supported by 60 Republicans, including Speaker Dade Phelan. All votes in opposition came from Republicans.
The move to impeach came less than a week after the House General Investigating Committee revealed that it was investigating Paxton for what members described as a yearslong pattern of misconduct and questionable actions that include bribery, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice. They presented the case against him Saturday, acknowledging the weight of their actions.
“Today is a very grim and difficult day for this House and for the state of Texas,” Rep. David Spiller, R-Jacksboro, a committee member, told House members.
“We have a duty and an obligation to protect the citizens of Texas from elected officials who abuse their office and their powers for personal gain,” Spiller said. “As a body, we should not be complicit in allowing that behavior.”
Paxton supporters criticized the impeachment proceedings as rushed, secretive and based on hearsay accounts of actions taken by Paxton, who was not given the opportunity to defend himself to the investigating committee.
That's because Paxton will get his defense at his Senate trial, which presents its own set of problems: Paxton's wife Angela is in fact a Texas state senator.
The good news is that the law prevailed, despite open and repeated threats by Paxton, GOP US Sen. Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. Naturally, I expect those threats to be repeated against the Texas senate, which in this case would jury tampering, what Trump does best.
We'll see if Paxton survives this. There's got to be heavy pressure for him to resign, and let's not forget that the reason Paxton was impeached now is that by not doing so, Texas Republicans, who were asked by Paxton for millions in taxpayer dollars to pay off his whistleblowers, would have been culpable in the federal investigation into Paxton's bribery, still ongoing.