A Republican-led panel of the Texas House of Representatives recommended on Thursday that the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, be impeached for various abuses of his office.
The recommendation plunged the state Capitol and its Republican leadership into uncharted political territory in the waning days of the legislative session. History.
If he is fired, Mr. Paxton must step down temporarily while he faces an investigation in the state Senate.
“There’s really no precedent — we’ve really only had two impeachments under the 1876 Constitution,” said Mark P. Jones said. They include Governor in 1917He resigned the day before the Senate convicted him, and a district judge was convicted and fired In the 1970s.
Before the vote, the committee met in an executive session out of public view.
“Overturning elections starts behind closed doors,” said Mr. Paxton said A post on Twitter It also included a video of a lawyer from his office arguing against the impeachment to reporters in a nearly empty committee room as committee deliberations were underway.
The unusual developments could test the Republican Party in new and unpredictable ways in Texas, at a time when divisions in the party are increasingly exposed.
The Texas House is led by Speaker Tate Phelan, a Republican representing Beaumont who is considered a traditional conservative. In contrast, Mr. Paxton has clashed with some of the most hard-line Republican legislators in Texas, including former President Donald J. Trump is joined in a camp that includes the lieutenant governor and president of the state Senate, Dan Patrick.
The House committee’s vote came after three hours of detailed testimony Wednesday from a panel of investigators — including former prosecutors, Mr. They were hired by the committee to investigate allegations of corruption against Paxton. Austin real estate developer and donor to help Mr. How Paxton abused and misused his office, he told Mr. Paxton also hired a woman he was in a relationship with, and Mr. of the Attorney General.
Mr. Paxton’s alleged wrongdoings rose to a potential criminal level, investigators said, including instances of retaliation against people who spoke out.
The panel did not take testimony during Thursday’s hearing.
Mr. Christopher Hilton, an attorney from Paxton’s office, told reporters that the panel’s process was “totally lacking” and that testimony from Wednesday was “false” and “misleading.” Last year Mr. He also said that during Paxton’s re-election campaign, when he was elected to a third term, the issues raised by the group were fully aired.
“The 2022 election, the primaries and general these issues, these allegations were held,” Mr. Hilton said. “The voters have spoken. They want Ken Paxton as their attorney general.
And in what appeared to be a preview of a possible legal challenge to the measures, Mr. Hilton said Texas law only allowed an indictment for conduct after a previous election.
Mr. under the charge of securities fraud. The trial began in March after Paxton apparently succeeded in putting at least one of his legal troubles behind him. He agreed to a $3.3 million settlement with four key aides who sued him, alleging corruption and retaliation.
Mr. Paxton asked the Texas Legislature for funds to pay the settlement. But Mr. Phelan does not support the use of government money, and Mr. Paxton said he thought he didn’t explain well enough. A House inquiry into the allegations was launched to gather information about the financial claim, Mr. Phelan’s spokesman said.
For two days this week, Mr. Mr. Paxton, accused of presiding over a House session while drunk last week He waged a war of words and accusations against Phelan. Various conservative bills have failed in the Texas House. Based on a video circulating among hard-right activists accusing Phelan, Mr. Paxton based his claim on
Mr. Much of what was presented to the committee about Paxton was already publicly known from allegations made in the aides’ lawsuit. Assistants Mr. They took their complaints about Paxton to the FBI, which is still under investigation.
Thursday’s vote marked the first official ruling on those charges, with Mr. They were found to be sufficient to begin the process of removing Paxton from office.
David Montgomery Contributed report.