It’s Memorial Day weekend, when ostensibly the U.S. puts aside its differences and unites to pay respect to military members who died while serving the country. This weekend, however, a segment of the right wing are freaking out about the impeachment of one of its own, who has demonstrably given enough pause in his alleged conduct that his fellow party members voted he be impeached. The Texas GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach state Attorney General Ken Paxton on Saturday. The Republican AG was impeached on 20 articles including bribery, firing those who reported the alleged bribery, and abuse of public trust.
Eric Trump, one of Donald Trump’s sons and EVP of the Trump organization, weighed in on Twitter: “This should never be allowed to happen to @KenPaxtonTX,” he wrote, though he gave no explanation as to why the 20 articles against Paxton should be dismissed out of hand. Meanwhile, Trump pundit and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle said on Twitter prior to the vote that it was “absolutely disgusting” and called Paxton a “GREAT ally” to the former president and the MAGA movement, which Trump Jr. retweeted. She added: “Texans should stand with Ken Paxton because he always stands up for you!”
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Despite the Trump family’s objections to the proceedings, per state law, the 121-23 vote finds Paxton immediately suspended from office as he awaits the ensuing trial in the state Senate, where his final removal would require a two-thirds vote. Paxton’s wife, Angela, is among the senators who may vote. In the interim, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott can appoint another individual to serve as attorney general.
Paxton, who has become the third sitting official to have been impeached in Texas, has been a controversial figure for several reasons. He challenged President Joe Biden’s win against Donald Trump in 2020 in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2015, he was under criminal indictment on securities fraud charges prior to his taking office, after he allegedly defrauded investors in a tech startup (he pleaded not guilty to two felony counts). He had also been under FBI investigation for allegedly using his office to help a donor, allegedly opening a legal defense fund and accepting $100,000 from an executive who was under investigation by Paxton’s office for Medicaid fraud. Last year, he sought to get data on transgender residents from the Department of Public Safety.
Ultimately, what led lawmakers to impeach Paxton were his interactions with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, with eight top aides telling the FBI in 2020 they had concerns over Paxton misusing his position and office to help Paul. The developer claimed there was a conspiracy to steal $200 million from his properties. The FBI searched Paul’s home in 2019, but he has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Paxton confided in staff members that he had an affair with a woman who worked for Paul.
The impeachment charges allege that Paxton attempted to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits and other legal issues to help Paul, that the Paul hired the woman who had the affair with Paxton in exchange for the legal benefits, and that Paul paid for renovations at Paxton’s home.
A senior lawyer for Paxton’s office, Chris Hilton, told the Associated Press on Friday that Paxton paid for all repairs and renovations.
Prior to the impeachment vote on Saturday, Trump — alongside his family members — came to Paxton’s defense. “The RINO Speaker of the House of Texas, Dade Phelan, who is barely a Republican at all and failed the test on voter integrity, wants to impeach one of the most hard working and effective Attorney Generals in the United States, Ken Paxton, who just won re-election with a large number of American Patriots strongly voting for him,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
“Hopefully Republicans in the Texas House will agree that this is a very unfair process that should not be allowed to happen or proceed — I will fight you if it does,” Trump wrote in a separate post. “It is the Radical Left Democrats, RINOS, and Criminals that never stop.” Following the vote, Trump returned to spewing vitriol against his rival Ron DeSantis.
Earlier this week, Paxton called for an investigation into Phelan, who appeared to be intoxicated as he presided over a House session. Phelan presided over Paxton’s impeachment on Saturday.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) impeached by Texas House of Representatives 121-23 pic.twitter.com/wlNtCgGlB2
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 27, 2023
“The ugly spectacle in the Texas House today confirmed the outrageous impeachment plot against me was never meant to be fair or just,” Paxton said following the vote of impeachment, while his office pointed to internal reports that found no wrongdoing. “It was a politically motivated sham from the beginning.”
This article was updated at 9:11 p.m. ET to include comments from Trump’s family.
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