Takeaways From the Impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (2023)


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The extraordinary vote on impeachment exposed rifts among Texas Republicans and set the stage for a contentious showdown in the State Senate.

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Takeaways From the Impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (1)

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and J. David Goodman

(Video) Takeaways from Texas AG Ken Paxton's press conference

Ken Paxton, the firebrand Republican Texas attorney general, was temporarily thrown out of office on Saturday by House lawmakers — many from his own party — who voted to impeach him over a series of bribery and corruption allegations, including that he had given special treatment to a campaign donor who helped him remodel his house.

The vote of 121 to 23 in favor of impeachment included a majority of House Republicans, showing bipartisan support for removing the attorney general from his post. And it came over the objection of former President Donald J. Trump and a host of other prominent conservatives who argued that lawmakers were reversing the will of voters who had re-elected Mr. Paxton to a third term by a wide margin in November.

Mr. Paxton, who has denied wrongdoing and called the proceedings illegal, will at some point face a trial before the State Senate, which is home to many of his allies and his wife, State Senator Angela Paxton.








(Video) Why Texas' GOP-controlled House wants to impeach Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton


Texas House Impeaches Attorney General Ken Paxton

The Texas House voted to impeach Ken Paxton, the attorney general, immediately removing him from office pending a trial in the State Senate.

The question in regards to the adoption of the resolution, this record vote required by the Constitution. The clerk, ring the bell. Show the speaker voting aye. Show Mr. Longoria voting aye. Mr. Murr voting aye. Show Mr. Dutton voting present not voting. Have all members voted? [gavel] There have been 121 ayes and 23 nays, two present not voting, three absent. The resolution is adopted. The chair directs the chief clerk to notify the governor of the House’s actions. The chair directs the Committee on General Investigating to prepare any further resolution required by the adoption of H.R. 2377.

Takeaways From the Impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (2)

More than half of Republicans voted to impeach, revealing fractures.

Following hours of at times impassioned debate, a substantial majority ofRepublicans in the House ultimately moved to impeach Mr. Paxton, despite his strong appeal with Republican primary voters in Texas.

The proceedings revealed, in stark terms, the divisions that have split Republicans in recent years and that were likely to define the conflict inside the party for some time to come: on one side, those who saw Mr. Paxton as the victim of an unfair process that would help Democrats, and others who felt that a sense of duty and integrity compelled them to act against corruption, even to the detriment of a party leader.

The lines were being drawn in real time, between Republicans presenting the arguments for impeachment, and other Republicans challenging them.

Representative John Smithee, a Republican, said he did not have enough evidence in front of him to support the effort and urged, unsuccessfully, other lawmakers to not vote for impeachment. “Today it could be General Paxton, and tomorrow it could be you,” Mr. Smithee said.

Another Republican opponent was more direct about the politics involved. “This is wrong. You know it. Your voters know it,” said Representative Tony Tinderholt. “Don’t give Democrats another victory handed to them on a silver platter.”

Representative Andrew Murr, who led the committee investigating Mr. Paxton and brought the impeachment resolution to the floor,concluded the debate by saying that “integrity and honesty” were important traits; he urged his colleagues to live up to them and vote to impeach.

“The evidence presented to you is compelling and is more than sufficient to justify going to trial,” he said.

The attorney general remains suspended while the case moves to a trial in the Senate.

Mr. Paxton’s case will next move to the State Senate, where he will stand trial. Among the senators who will serve as jurors is one who knows him well: Angela Paxton, his wife, who is a Republican.

During that time, Mr. Paxton will be temporarily suspended from office. Gov. Greg Abbott may appoint someone to act as an interim attorney general, but he is not required to. If he does not, those duties would be handled by the next most senior official.

Assuming Ms. Paxton does not recuse herself and all 12 Democratic senators vote to permanently remove Mr. Paxton, nine of the body’s 19 Republicans would also need to vote for impeachment to reach the necessary two-thirds majority.

If the Senate votes to acquit Mr. Paxton, then he would immediately resume the role of attorney general.

It is unclear when the trial will happen, though almost certainly it will not come before the legislative session ends on Monday. The lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who will preside over the trial and set the rules, can call a special session to hold it. His office has not said if and when he planned to do so.

(Video) Texas Republicans hold AG Ken Paxton accountable in House impeachment vote



Several lawmakers stood out in their roles on Saturday.

During the four hours in which lawmakers debated whether to impeach Mr. Paxton, several key players emerged who could have an enduring role as the impeachment case proceeds.

Representative Andrew Murr, the Republican who led the committee that investigated Mr. Paxton, brought the impeachment resolution to the floor and fielded most of the questions from Mr. Paxton’s supporters, many of whom directly criticized the committee’s work.

Mr. Murr, with his distinctive curling mustache, parried many of the attacks on the process by returning to the seriousness of the charges against Mr. Paxton. “We will not tolerate corruption, bribery, abuse of office, retaliation and all the related charges that have been presented to you,” he said in his closing remarks. “I’m confident that you cannot tolerate, let alone defend, these most serious and grave official wrongs.”

Representative John Smithee, another Republican, took on the role of arguing against impeachment, focusing less on the accusations and more on the ways in which he viewed the process as unfair. He said that not enough evidence had been presented and that lawmakers had not had enough time to consider such a consequential decision.

“It’s what I call the hang them now and judge them later policy,” he said of the proceedings.

Representative Ann Johnson, a Democrat and former prosecutor, laid into Mr. Paxton from the floor on Saturday, saying he had broken laws that could lead to jail time. She also described what she said were senior members of Mr. Paxton’s staff whose integrity had compelled them to speak up about his behavior. She said one employee observed Mr. Paxton requesting expensive renovations to his home that would be taken care of by his friend and donor.

The employee, deeply disturbed at a situation he regarded as improper, quit his job, Ms. Johnson said. When he continued to be paid by Mr. Paxton, she said, the man returned the money to Mr. Paxton’s campaign. “This is the kind of integrity,” she said, that investigators discovered from the people who spoke up, many of whom were Republicans.

House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican in his second session leading the House, managed the proceedings and remained mostly quiet aside from urging decorum at the start. But because he was seen as having allowed the proceeding to take place at all, Mr. Phelan has come under withering and sustained attack from national Republican figures, particularly those allied with Mr. Trump. After the impeachment vote, Mr. Trump personally vilified Mr. Phelan. “What is our Country coming to?” Mr. Trump asked on his social media network, Truth Social.


(Video) State House votes to impeach AG Ken Paxton

Bribery, an affair and abusing the public trust are among lawmakers’ allegations.

The investigative committee spent the first several minutes of Saturday’s floor session laying out the 20 articles of impeachment that ultimately were approved by a majority of lawmakers.

Among the allegations were that Mr. Paxton gave special treatment and abused his office to help Nate Paul, a friend and campaign donor in Austin, in several instances. Lawmakers also said that Mr. Paul helped with renovations on Mr. Paxton’s home and employed a woman with whom Mr. Paxton had been having an affair, actions that amount to bribes in the eyes of Mr. Paxton’s critics.

The impeachment articles also include claims that Mr. Paxton directed his employees to violate the state’s open records law, fired employees who reported his bad behavior, made false statements to a state board, did not accurately disclose his finances and stalled a separate criminal prosecution that accused him of securities fraud.

Calling the vote ‘profoundly unjust,’ Ken Paxton said he still expected a fair trial in the Senate.

Mr. Paxton spoke out after the proceedings, slamming the House’s action as an “ugly spectacle” that he said was “illegal, unethical and profoundly unjust.”

In a statement, Mr. Paxton said lawmakers had refused to hear evidence from him, and he accused Mr. Phelan of being driven by a desire for political retribution. He also accused Mr. Phelan and other Republicans who voted for impeachment of being aligned with a range of liberal organizations and politicians, including President Biden and “woke corporations.”

But Mr. Paxton said he looked forward to his trial in the State Senate, where he said he had “full confidence the process will be fair and just.”

James Dobbins, Dave Montgomery and Anushka Patil contributed reporting.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reports on national news. He is from upstate New York and previously reported in Baltimore, Albany, and Isla Vista, Calif. @nickatnews

J. David Goodman is the Houston bureau chief, covering Texas. He has written about government, criminal justice and the role of money in politics for The Times since 2012. @jdavidgoodman


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(Video) How Texas AG Ken Paxton is firing back at fellow Republicans after articles of impeachment drafted


What did Ken Paxton do for impeachment? ›

The impeachment charges centered on Paxton's entanglement with Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor whose relationship with Paxton as a friend and political donor had caused several of his staff members to report him to federal authorities and prompted an FBI investigation — which Paxton allegedly refused to help ...

Why did Republicans impeach Ken Paxton? ›

AUSTIN, Texas — In a historic vote Saturday, the Texas House of Representatives decided to impeach Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton over allegations of illegal activities related to one of his political donors.

Who is Ken Paxton and what did he do? ›

Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr.

(born December 23, 1962) is an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Republican Party, he has been the Attorney General of Texas since January 2015, but was suspended in May 2023 after being impeached by the Texas House of Representatives; he is awaiting trial in the Texas Senate.

What did the Texas Attorney General do? ›

defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas. represent the State in litigation. approve public bond issues.

Who was impeached in Texas? ›

History is repeating: The Texas House overwhelmingly approved 20 articles of impeachment Saturday against Attorney General Ken Paxton that describe a yearslong pattern of alleged misconduct and lawbreaking. Now, the intraparty fight that will determine the political future of Paxton heads to the state Senate.

Who decided to impeach? ›

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution provides: The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7 provide: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.

Who was the Power to impeach? ›

The United States Constitution provides that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment" (Article I, section 2) and "the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments …

Who was the Power to impeach someone in government? ›

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

What did Ken Paxton do in Texas? ›

In their 2020 letter, Mr. Paxton's aides said that he had committed bribery, abuse of office and other “potential criminal offenses.” Four of the aides also brought their concerns to the F.B.I. and Texas Rangers.

What party does Ken Paxton belong to? ›

His current term ends on January 1, 2027. Paxton (Republican Party) ran for re-election for Attorney General of Texas.

How much child support in Texas? ›

Texas child support laws provide the following Guideline calculations: one child= 20% of Net Monthly Income (discussed further below); two children = 25% of Net Monthly Income; three children = 30% of Net Monthly Income; four children = 35% of Net Monthly Income; five children = 40% of Net Monthly Income; and six ...

How much is the attorney general paid in Texas? ›

Attorney General of Texas
Texas Attorney General
Office Type:Partisan
Office website:Official Link
2022 FY Budget:$651,863,347
13 more rows

Who has the primary responsibility for enforcing the law in Texas? ›

(a) The Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas is an agency of the state to enforce the laws protecting the public safety and provide for the prevention and detection of crime.

Which man was impeached? ›

The impeachment of Andrew Johnson was initiated on February 24, 1868, when the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution to impeach Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States, for "high crimes and misdemeanors".

Who has the power of impeachment in Texas? ›

665.021. SENATE MEETS AS COURT OF IMPEACHMENT. If the house prefers articles of impeachment against an individual, the senate shall meet as a court of impeachment in a trial of the individual in the manner provided by Article XV of the Texas Constitution. Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 268, Sec. 1, eff.

Who was the only governor ever impeached in Texas? ›

James Edward Ferguson Jr.

(August 31, 1871 – September 21, 1944), known as Pa Ferguson, was an American Democratic politician and the 26th Governor of Texas, in office from 1915 to 1917. He was indicted and impeached during his second term, forced to resign and barred from holding further Texas office.

What is the point of impeachment? ›

If a federal official commits a crime or otherwise acts improperly, the House of Representatives may impeach—formally charge—that official. If the official subsequently is convicted in a Senate impeachment trial, he is removed from office.

Who was the first impeach? ›

Background. Donald Trump is the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Before Trump, Johnson was the only president to be impeached in his first term.

Can a Supreme Court justice be removed by the president? ›

Federal judges can only be removed through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate. Judges and Justices serve no fixed term — they serve until their death, retirement, or conviction by the Senate.

What is the only penalty for impeachment? ›

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Is impeachment the same as indictment? ›

An impeachment is instituted by a written accusation, called the ''Arti- cles of Impeachment,'' which states the offense charged; the articles serve the same purpose as an indictment in an ordinary criminal proceeding.

Who declares war? ›

The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war. Congress has declared war on 11 occasions, including its first declaration of war with Great Britain in 1812. Congress approved its last formal declaration of war during World War II.

What are the four legal reasons for impeachment? ›

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Has a Supreme Court justice ever been impeached? ›

Has a Justice ever been impeached? The only Justice to be impeached was Associate Justice Samuel Chase in 1805. The House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment against him; however, he was acquitted by the Senate. Who decides how many Justices are on the Court?

How many presidents have been impeached? ›

Three United States presidents have been impeached, although none were convicted: Andrew Johnson was in 1868, Bill Clinton was in 1998, and Donald Trump twice, in 2019 and 2021.

Who tries federal officials who have been impeached? ›

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution provides: The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7 provide: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.

What cabinet secretary was impeached? ›

U.S. Senate: Impeachment Trial of Secretary of War William Belknap, 1876.

What is the required vote to convict someone who has been impeached? ›

A two-thirds majority of the senators present at the trial is required for conviction according to Article One, Section 3, Clause 6 of the Constitution. The nature of the impeachment proceedings is remedial rather than punitive, with the only remedy being removal from office.

What is the only penalty that can be imposed on someone who is impeached? ›

The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict, and the penalty for an impeached official upon conviction is removal from office. In some cases, the Senate has also disqualified such officials from holding public offices in the future. There is no appeal.

What is the name of the president who has been impeached twice? ›

Three United States presidents have been impeached, although none were convicted: Andrew Johnson was in 1868, Bill Clinton was in 1998, and Donald Trump twice, in 2019 and 2021.


1. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on defense ahead of planned impeachment vote
(KPRC 2 Click2Houston)
2. Texas House votes to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton
3. Texas AG Ken Paxton blasts impeachment proceeding, calls on supporters
4. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick comments on possibility of Ken Paxton impeachment trial
5. Livestream: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment proceedings
(KHOU 11)
6. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton denies abusing power in office as House impeachment vote looms


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