Texas lawmakers react to AG Ken Paxton's impeachment
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas lawmakers had many conversations about what they read in the Articles of Impeachment against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
"It's very troubling to hear that the highest law enforcement officer in the state of Texas is engaged in some of the many items that we've seen that have been presented to us. And so it's worthy of debate," said Rockwall Republican Justin Holland.
Friday, House members received a memo from the Chairman of the House General Investigating committee. They were notified the impeachment resolution against Paxton will be called up on the House floor Saturday, May 27 at 1 p.m.
Committee Chairman Andrew Murr in the memo noted: "We cannot over-emphasize the fact that, but for Paxton’s own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement over his wrongful conduct, Paxton would not be facing impeachment by the House."
Chairman Murr also justified the process by stating: "Because of Paxton’s long-standing pattern of abuse of office and public trust, disregard and dereliction of duty, and obstruction of justice and abuse of judicial process, it is imperative that the house proceed with impeachment."
Despite that, some members do not approve of what's happening.
"It's the integrity of the House. There is no due process," said Conroe Republican Steve Toth. "There are no rules of evidence. This is double hearsay in a legal proceeding. You don't go by hearsay. And yet we're expected to vote on the removal of a statewide elected official based on double hearsay."
The chairman of the Texas GOP, Matt Renaldi, also condemned the impeachment process. In a social media post he criticized House Speaker Dade Phelan and called the process a sham.
Seventy-six votes are needed to start a trial in the Senate. The 64 Democrats in the House are expected to vote for impeachment, requiring only 12 Republican votes for impeachment.
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"The real question is going to be how many Republicans, and which ones," Houston Democrat Jon Rosenthal said. "And so that's why I hope that the debate is thoughtful and considered. I hope people exchange ideas with open hearts and open minds."
In the memo sent to House members, Chairman Murr addressed what's called the fairness doctrine, which reportedly prevents removal of a state office holder after an election for any past wrong doing as long as voters knew about it before the election.
Murr noted the state Surpreme Court ruled that claim does not apply in this kind of impeachment — and is why the last 2 impeachments in state history took place.
"Look, I think this is a very serious accusation here," said Cedar Park Democrat John Bucy. "We need to take this decision seriously. This does not happen often. And I don't think anyone in the Texas legislature is taking this lightly. This isn't fun."