The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) will begin no later than Aug. 28, lawmakers said Monday, marking the first trial of its kind in nearly half a century.
The Republican-led Texas House of Representatives voted Saturday to impeach Paxton after a state ethics panel recommended removing him from office after a long abuse of office investigation. The step came after the introduction of the investigators a list of alleged misdeedsincluding bribery, retaliating against employees and abusing one’s position to help a political ally.
A committee of seven state senators will meet next month to pass a set of rules governing the impeachment process. A dozen members of the House of Representatives will plead with their peers that Paxton abused office.
It’s unclear if Paxton’s wife, State Senator Angela Paxton (right), will withdraw from the case.
“We will face this process with the weight and reverence it deserves and requires,” said House Inquiry Chairman Andrew Murr (right). told Reporter Monday. He did not comment on whether Paxton’s wife would attend the trial.
Paxton, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, has done so criticized the effort as a political attack and denied any wrongdoing and vowed to defend himself vigorously during the impeachment process. It is unclear who will represent him.
“The ugly spectacle today in the Texas House of Representatives confirmed that the outrageous impeachment plan against me should never be fair or just,” he said in a statement Saturday. “It was a politically motivated farce from the start.”
Paxton was suspended from his official duties pending the trial. His chief deputy, Brent Webster, is currently in office during the interim period, although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) must name a more formal interim replacement.
It is a monumental episode in Texas politics and a moment of reckoning with the state’s Republican majority. Only two other officers have ever been impeached and impeached in state history, and the last time was almost 50 years ago, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The investigation into Paxton’s conduct began in March, according to the attorney general reached a $3.3 million settlement with former employees suing him, saying they were fired in retaliation after accusing him of crimes. Paxton asked the Texas legislature to fund the agreement, but lawmakers denied the request, saying there wasn’t enough explanation as to why the state should foot the bill.
Paxton has in recent days attacked Republican Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Phelan, accusing him of getting drunk during a session last week.