On Saturday, the Texas House of Representatives voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch conservative and ally of former President Donald Trump who has been accused of abuse of office by his fellow Republicans.
In historic proceedings, the 149-member House voted 121-23 to impeach Paxton following hours of debate during which supporters and opponents of impeachment delivered addresses. Two members were present but did not participate in the vote, while three were absent.
Paxton will now be removed from office pending a prosecution in the Senate, where his wife, Senator Angela Paxton, serves. According to its website, the Texas Senate is on recess until Sunday at 1 pm.
After Saturday's vote, Paxton issued a statement on Twitter denying the allegations and condemning the proceedings as "illegal, unethical, and deeply unjust."
He stated, "I anticipate a swift resolution in the Texas Senate, where I am confident the process will be fair and just."
Trump, seeking re-election in 2024, posted a message on his social media channel Truth Social before the vote in which he pledged to "fight" Texas House Republicans if Paxton were impeached.
The 20 articles of impeachment presented by a Republican-led House committee accuse Paxton of, among other offenses, providing improper assistance to a wealthy political donor, conducting a sham investigation against fired whistleblowers in his office, and covering up his wrongdoing in a separate federal securities fraud case against him.
The impeachment proceedings against Paxton exposed the division among Texas Republicans. Some passionately supported the impeachment of the state's chief law enforcement officer.
Representative David Spiller stated before the vote, "Attorney General Paxton flagrantly and repeatedly violated laws, rules, policies, and procedures."
Others were ardently against it. John Smithee, a long-serving conservative chamber member, stated that he was not speaking in Paxton's defense but criticizing the procedure and asserting that there was insufficient evidence.
Smithee stated, "No single word or sentence in this testimony would be admissible in any Texas court of law." It consists of hearsay upon hearsay upon hearsay.
Paxton has taken an extreme right stance on divisive cultural issues. He has sued the Biden administration nearly fifty times to stop what he calls "illegal tyrannical policies" regarding immigration, firearms rights, and business regulation.
Thursday, the five-member General Investigating Committee of the Texas House voted unanimously to recommend that Paxton be impeached and removed from office.
Paxton comfortably won re-election in 2012 after defeating George P. Bush, the grandson of two former presidents, in the Republican primary.
The committee has heard testimony from its investigators regarding several years of alleged abuse of office by Paxton, including that he provided FBI files related to Paul's investigation to friend and donor Nate Paul, a Texas real estate developer.
Additionally, the articles of impeachment alleged that Paxton engaged in bribery when Paul hired a woman with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair.