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Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general, impeached by state House of Representatives

Texas House impeaches Attorney General Ken Paxton
Texas House impeaches Attorney General Ken Paxton 00:25

Austin, Texas — The GOP-led Texas House of Representatives on Saturday voted decisively to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had 20 articles of impeachment brought up against him earlier this week. 

The final vote was 121 voting to impeach, with 23 voting against impeachment and two voting present. Paxton will now be immediately removed from his job pending a Senate trial. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, can appoint a replacement while Paxton is suspended. 

The 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton included accusations of bribery, obstruction of justice and abuse of the public trust. Paxton has been under FBI investigation for years over accusations that he used his office to help a donor. He was separately indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, but has yet to stand trial. 

The state Senate has only expelled lawmakers twice, Gov. James Ferguson in 1917, and District Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975.    

Paxton released a statement immediately after the vote calling it an "ugly spectacle" and said it was a "politically motivated sham since the beginning." 

Texas Attorney General Impeachment
Voting boards are lit with a majority of green lights as the house votes to impeach state Attorney General Ken Paxton, in the House Chamber at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, Saturday, May 27, 2023. Texas lawmakers have issued 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton, ranging from bribery to abuse of public trust as state Republicans surged toward a swift and sudden vote that could remove him from office. Eric Gay / AP

Paxton also alleged that Republican state House Speaker Dade Phelan's "coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans is now in lockstep with the Biden Administration, the abortion industry, anti-gun zealots, and woke corporations to sabotage my work as Attorney General, including our ongoing litigation to stop illegal immigration, uphold the rule of law and protect the constitutional right of every Texan," Paxton said.

Paxton's wife, Angela Paxton, is a state senator and could potentially be voting in the trial. 

What are the allegations against Paxton? 

Late Wednesday, the House Investigating Committee issued 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton. Committee chair, state Rep. Andrew Murr, said in a memo Friday that the investigation into Paxton began in March after Paxton asked the House to fund a $3.3 million settlement to whistleblowers from his office who said they were fired after accusing Paxton of accepting bribes and other misconduct. 

In the articles of impeachment, Paxton is accused of having "abused the judicial process to thwart justice" by benefiting from the filing of a lawsuit by a campaign donor that "interfered with or disrupted payment of the prosecutors in a criminal securities fraud case against Paxton," which allegedly led to the "protracted delay" in the criminal case against Paxton in Collin County, Texas, the suburban Dallas area that is Paxton's home base.  

Eye on Politics: The impeachment case against Texas AG Ken Paxton 29:27

Paxton is also accused of making "misrepresentations or false or misleading statements in official filings to mislead both the public and public officials." 

The five members of the Texas House who represent Collin County voted to impeach Paxton. In a statement tweeted after the vote, they said "it became clear to us that sufficient evidence indeed exists to vote to commend articles of impeachment to the Texas Senate for a full-trial." 

Other parts of the articles of impeachment relate to his relationship with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul. Allegations include that Paxton used employees of his office to do work that benefitted Paul and that he misused public information, including not publicly disclosing he had provided information to Paul that would benefit him. 

The articles of impeachment allege that Paul, a campaign donor, paid to renovate Paxton's house, and Paxton requested Paul hire a woman with whom Paxton was allegedly in a relationship. 

Who is Ken Paxton?

Paxton was a state senator from the Dallas suburbs before being elected attorney general of Texas in 2014, despite having already been accused of financial crimes. Prosecutors held off on a possible investigation until after the election, but a Collin County grand jury indicted him in July 2015 for two first-degree felony charges of securities fraud and a third-degree felony charge of failure to register. 

Paxton pleaded not guilty and his lawyers have successfully been able to stall the case.

What is the relationship between Paxton and former President Donald Trump? 

Paxton is a close ally of former President Donald Trump, and filed a lawsuit in December 2020 seeking to overturn presidential election results in key battleground states, which was later tossed out by the Supreme Court. Paxton also spoke at Trump's rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Trump on Saturday posted a message on his social media platform Truth Social Saturday in support of Paxton. Calling Phelan a "RINO" — or Republican in name only" — and "barely a Republican at all and failed the test on voter integrity." Trump also called Paxton "one of the most hard working and effective attorney generals in the United States." 

Paxton's accusation against Phelan

Hours before the state House Investigating Committee on Tuesday announced it had been looking into Paxton, he released a bizarre statement on Twitter calling on Phelan to resign. Paxton accused Phelan of being intoxicated on the House floor on May 19 due to an 18-second clip that had been circulating on social media that showed Phelan slightly stumbling to finish a sentence. 

"While I hope Speaker Phelan gets the help he needs, he has proven himself unworthy of Texans' trust and incapable of leading the Texas House," Paxton alleged. 

Paxton said he had referred the matter to the House Investigating Committee. 

Phelan fired back, with his communications director Catt Whitmann saying in a statement that the "attorney general appears to have routinely abused his powers for personal gain and exhibited blatant disregard for the ethical and legal propriety expected of the state's leading law enforcement officer." 

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