In a historic move, the Texas House of Representatives endorsed the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton, putting his role on hold until the completion of a Senate trial. This outcome arrived after a 121-23 vote and is the first impeachment of its kind since 1975. Despite a late plea from former President Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Cruz, Paxton, a prominent figure in Texas and on the national stage, was impeached by the Texas House on Saturday following allegations of bribery and abuse of office.
The adoption of the 20 impeachment articles took place with a vote of 121-23, creating ripples as it occurred 48 hours after an investigative committee revealed the charges and only two days prior to the wrap-up of a two-year legislative session marked by notably successful votes for the majority right-wing Texas House, including the prohibition of transgender healthcare for minors and new limitations on diversity initiatives in public universities.
Paxton has gained notoriety through his persistent legal action against the Obama and Biden administrations and as one of Trump’s closest allies in Texas, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Paxton attempted to have the 2020 election results for President overturned in four states, although it was ultimately unsuccessful.
Now the spotlight shifts to the Texas Senate, where a trial will be held with senators functioning as jurors and designated House members making their cases as impeachment managers.
For Paxton to be permanently ousted from office and prevented from holding future elected positions in Texas, a two-thirds majority of senators would have to back the move. Sixty Republicans supported the impeachment, including Speaker Dade Phelan. All votes against came from Republicans. The move towards impeachment came just days after the House General Investigating Committee announced it was scrutinizing Paxton for alleged misconduct and suspicious actions, including obstruction of justice, over several years.
Paxton’s supporters voiced criticism against the impeachment process, denouncing it as hasty, clandestine, and grounded in unsubstantiated accounts of Paxton’s actions, who did not have a chance to defend himself before the committee.
The House committee members who proposed impeachment contended that Paxton’s in-office wrongdoing was so egregious that it demanded his removal. The legislators of Texas had only impeached state officials twice since 1876 and never an attorney general.