Why you should pay attention to the Texas attorney general’s impeachment trial

By | September 9, 2023

Shirin Ali writes:

A battle that’s long been brewing in Texas is finally coming to a head as the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, undergoes an impeachment trial for allegations of corruption, bribery, and abuse of power. It all started after Paxton demanded that $3.3 million in taxpayer money be used to settle a lawsuit against him. (Paxton has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty this week in his first hearing.)

Paxton is a polarizing political figure, even beyond the allegations of corruption. He’s one of many Republicans who have taken a very steep and sharp turn to the right, becoming an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump. (Paxton spoke at the infamous “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021.) In a state that’s solidly conservative, this worked out well for Paxton, earning him support among Texas voters and making him the subject of national headlines. But it has made his impeachment all the more painful for Texas Republicans who hold similar conservative views but simply cannot take Paxton’s drama any longer.

Things really started heating up for him back in May, after the state House impeached Paxton in a pretty decisive vote of 121–23, despite Republicans holding the majority in both chambers. Paxton was suspended from his role as attorney general, but the House vote wasn’t enough to fully oust him from office—the Texas Senate would also have to consider the impeachment articles.

This week, senators voted on whether they should dismiss all impeachment articles against Paxton, resulting in a resounding 24–6 vote in favor of keeping them. Now, over the course of the next week or two, they will consider scores of evidence against Paxton that will detail how he abused the power of the attorney general’s office, including witness testimony possibly from Paxton himself. It will be a test of Texas Republicans’ commitment to holding one of their own accountable. [Continue reading…]

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