In a historic vote on Saturday (May 27), the Texas House impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton for alleged abuses of his office. The impeachment, the first in decades, came after a 121-23 vote by the Republican-dominated Texas House, where Paxton faced accusations of bribery and abuse of public trust from his own GOP colleagues. Paxton, a former ally of ex-President Donald Trump and a three-term attorney general, was suspended immediately after the vote that followed hours of debate on the 20 articles filed against him.
The House chamber listened to speeches from both sides of the impeachment debate. Paxton lost the majority vote with two members not voting and three absent. He then tweeted that the accusations were false and the proceedings were “illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust.”
He said, “I hope the Texas Senate will resolve this quickly and fairly.” But his final removal depends on the US Senate trial where his wife Angela Paxton is a senator. The Texas Senate website says they will resume at 1:00 pm (local time) on Sunday.
The debate followed a unanimous vote by the five-member Texas House General Investigating Committee on Thursday to impeach and remove Paxton from office.
The development also shows the growing rifts within the Texas Republican Party. “Attorney General Paxton broke laws, rules, policies and procedures repeatedly and blatantly,” said Representative David Spiller.
Spiller, who was on the House investigative committee, said they had been investigating Paxton for months. But John Smithee, a veteran conservative in the chamber, said he did not support Paxton’s actions but he questioned the process and the evidence.
He said, “None of the testimony you heard would be allowed in any Texas court,” and added, “It is all hearsay.” Before the vote on Saturday, Trump posted on his social media platform Truth Social that he would “fight,” if the Texas House impeached Paxton.
The committee, led by Republicans, had 20 impeachment articles against Paxton after the vote, charging him with a long list of abuses such as taking bribes, neglecting his official duties, interfering with justice in a separate securities fraud case that he faces, lying on official documents and reports, and betraying the public trust.
This included carrying out an alleged fake investigation against whistleblowers in his office whom he fired, felony securities fraud charges from 2015, and an ongoing FBI investigation into corruption allegations, among other offences.