The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) will begin no later than Aug. 28, lawmakers said Monday, teeing up the first such proceedings in nearly a half-century.
Texas’ Republican-led House voted to impeach Paxton on Saturday after a state ethics panel recommended he be removed from office following a long investigation into abuse of office. The move came after investigators presented a slate of alleged misdeeds, including bribery, retaliation against staffers and misuse of his position to help a political ally.
A committee of seven state senators will meet next month to adopt a slate of rules for the impeachment proceedings. A dozen lawmakers from the state House will make the case to their colleagues that Paxton abused his office.
It’s unclear whether Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton (R), will recuse herself from the proceedings.
“We will manage this process with the weight and reverence it deserves and requires,” state Rep. Andrew Murr (R), the chairman of the House investigation, told reporters Monday. He did not comment on whether Paxton’s wife would participate.
Paxton, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, has lambasted the effort as a political attack and denied any wrongdoing, vowing to vehemently defend himself during the impeachment trial. It’s unclear who will represent him.
“The ugly spectacle in the Texas House today confirmed the outrageous impeachment plot against me was never meant to be fair or just,” he said in a statement on Saturday. “It was a politically motivated sham from the beginning.”
Paxton has been suspended from his official duties while the trial moves forward. His top deputy, Brent Webster, is currently leading his office in the interim although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will be required to name a more formal temporary replacement.
It’s a monumental episode in Texas politics and a moment of reckoning for the state’s Republican majority. Only two other officials have ever been impeached and removed from office in state history, and the latest was nearly 50 years ago, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The investigation into Paxton’s behavior began in March after the attorney general reached a $3.3 million settlement with former staffers that sued him, saying they were fired in retaliation after accusing him of crimes. Paxton asked the Texas Legislature to fund the agreement, but lawmakers balked at the request and said there wasn’t enough explanation as to why the state should foot the bill.
Paxton has attacked Dade Phelan, the Republican Texas House speaker, in recent days, accusing him of being drunk during a session last week.