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Key events that led to Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment

Key events that led to Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment
Key events that led to Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment 04:17

NORTH TEXAS ( — Ken Paxton's historic impeachment trial begins on Tuesday, a little more than three months after the Texas House of Representatives voted to impeach the attorney general in a 121-23 vote over Memorial Day Weekend

The 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton include allegations of abuse of public trust, being unfit for office, dereliction of duty and constitutional bribery.

In short, Paxton is accused of abusing his office to benefit Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who donated $25,000 to his campaign and himself. 

Texas Attorney General Impeachment
The voting board is 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. Eric Gay / AP

Paxton is only the third Texas official, and second statewide, to be impeached. And the road to this point has been complicated. Here's a quick look back at how we got here. 

The attorney general's path to impeachment began nearly three years ago, in October of 2020. That's when eight of the top officials in the attorney general's office, hand-picked by Paxton, sent a letter to their human resources department, in which they accused the Paxton of violating federal law, including allegations of bribery.

In that letter, Paxton's top officials said they notified law enforcement and sent Paxton himself a text. 

The FBI in Austin began investigating Paxton. That ultimately led the attorney general to fire his deputies after calling them "rogue employees".

Four of them filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the attorney general's office.

Fast forward to this year—the attorney general's office announced on Feb. 10 that it agreed to settle the whistleblower lawsuit for $3.3 million, with the money coming from taxpayers. 

This didn't sit well with Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan, who we interviewed on Feb. 15

"Mr. Paxton is going to have to come to the Texas House," Phelan said at the time. "He'll have to appear before the House Appropriations Committee and make the case to that committee as to why that is proper use of taxpayers' dollars ... I don't think it's proper use of taxpayers' dollars."

On Feb. 21, nearly a week later, Paxton and his office asked the House for $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars to settle the case

During that hearing, Democratic Texas Rep. Javis Johnson of Houston asked if Paxton would be willing to put campaign funds toward the settlement. 

The attorney general didn't answer any questions about the proposed settlement agreement, but his office's litigation chief Chris Hilton spoke with lawmakers, telling them that Paxton isn't liable under state law — the Office of the Attorney General is. 

What was unknown to Paxton and most lawmakers at the time, the attorney general's request sparked a secret investigation by the House General Investigating Committee in March. 

On May 23, the committee went public with its investigation into Paxton's proposed settlement with the whistleblowers. It was officially known as Matter A.  

One day later, on May 24, the Texas House General Investigating Committee laid out their findings into allegations against Paxton. Investigators explained the settlement with whistleblowers would keep the case from going to trial and keep details of the allegations against Paxton out of public view. 

The committee recommended 20 articles of impeachment against him. Paxton blasted the impeachment articles the next day in a rare on-camera statement before Texas reporters: 

"By proceeding with the illegal impeachment scheme to overturn a decision made by Texas voters just a few short months ago, corrupt politicians in the Texas House are demonstrating their blind loyalty to Speaker Dade Phelan is more important than upholding their oath of office," Paxton said.

He walked out without taking reporters' questions.

Paxton isn't just facing an impeachment trial; he's also under federal investigation and has been for nearly three years. According to the Austin-American Statesman, a grand jury is looking into his ties to Nate Paul, who is under federal indictment in a separate case. 

Paxton also faces a long-delayed securities fraud trial.

Learn more about the history of that case in the timeline below.

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