Three-Term Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Faces Impeachment Calls: NPR

A Texas House committee has recommended that Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton be impeached on charges of bribery, obstruction of justice, and other charges of abusing his power to help campaign financiers.

Juana Summers, host:

Tomorrow, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is scheduled to vote on impeachment in the Texas House of Representatives. The Republican Party is popular among voters. After all, he has served three terms as state attorney general. But he’s also used to being investigated. Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges about eight years ago. He has not yet been tried in the matter. This week, a Texas House of Representatives committee alleges that he has committed illegal acts since then. Paxton told reporters in the afternoon that the impeachment process was politically motivated.

(Soundbite from archived recording)

Ken Paxton: Any politician who supports this deceptive impeachment attempt will do lasting damage to the credibility of the Texas House of Representatives, where I served.

Summers: Julian Aguilar from the Texas Newsroom is here to talk more. hey there.

Julian Aguilar, Signed: How are you doing?

Summers: I’m fine. So what exactly is the Texas House of Representatives claiming against Paxton?

Aguilar: So the House committee that initiated this investigation found that Paxton repeatedly abused his job to help his friends and campaign funders. Donor Nate Paul was under investigation by the FBI, and Paxton stepped in, according to former staffers. That has spawned an enormous list of charges, including neglect of official duty, constitutional bribery, obstruction of justice, and misrepresentation of official records, to name a few. It all related to a $3.3 million settlement Paxton made with a former employee who turned out to be a whistleblower who reported the allegations.

Summers: With the long list of allegations, how is Paxton responding?

Aguilar: Well, this afternoon Paxton further strengthened his belief that the impeachment process was illegal, but as you all know, it was expected and this is President Biden’s policy. A witch hunt intended to derail his efforts to stop the in court. Paxton says no other state has as much influence over “our nation’s destiny,” so to speak. He added that his office was not authorized to present independent evidence that would exonerate the attorney general. He also called on his supporters to go to the Capitol on Saturday and make their voices heard. And it should be noted that infighting among Republicans in Texas is nothing new. The Texas House of Representatives has long been considered the more moderate legislature, with far-right officials accusing it of stifling progress on more conservative issues. And we’ve already seen it play out in this session on issues including school vouchers and border security.

Summers: Okay. I have a question about impeachment proceedings. What happens next?

Aguilar: Okay. Congress will decide on Monday, but the House of Representatives will begin impeachment proceedings on Saturday at 1 p.m. local time. A simple majority is required for the House to impeach. And unlike federal rules, if the House moves to impeach Mr. Paxton, at least until the state Senate takes action. The matter will then move to the Senate, which will vote to hold a trial and examine the evidence if the House takes action. To ban Paxton for life, two-thirds of lawmakers would have to vote guilty. The Senate is made up of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats, including the Attorney General’s wife, Republican Senator Angela Paxton. No – yes, that’s right. It is not yet clear if she will have to withdraw from her legal proceedings. As such, it is considered a little more conservative and could make it more difficult to get Paxton out of the state Senate, where he once was.

Summers: OK, about 30 seconds left. You’re saying that if Paxton is impeached, he’ll be temporarily suspended. So what does that mean for his work, cases involving AG’s offices?

Aguilar: That’s a great question. That’s because Paxton said in one of his responses that pseudo-Republicans in the House were trying to “block a legal challenge to Biden’s extremist policies.” Aside from mounting scandals, Paxton made a name for himself by suing the Biden administration…

Summers: Right.

Aguilar: …on some issues. That is, if his office and his office are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday to oppose a stay of action against Obama-era child immigrants, known by many as DACA.

Summers: Okay.

Aguilar: So it’s unclear who will be in control of this development.

Summers: Okay. must be left there. Thanks to Julian Aguilar of The Texas Newsroom.

Aguilar: Thank you.

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