A Republican-led investigative committee in the Texas House of Representatives has recommended impeaching state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a far-right Trump ally, setting up a rare showdown in the state legislature, reported The New York Times on Thursday.
"The recommendation thrust the State Capitol and its Republican leadership into uncharted political territory in the waning days of the legislative session, setting the stage for the House to hold a vote on impeachment, its first in decades and one of the few ever conducted in the state’s history," reported J. David Goodman. "If he is impeached, Mr. Paxton, who has been under a separate criminal indictment since 2015, would be required to step down from his post temporarily while facing trial in the State Senate."
According to the report, Paxton would only be the third public official in Texas to be impeached in the history of the state's 1876 constitution, and the first statewide officeholder to be impeached since 1917.
Paxton has lashed out over the impeachment process, tweeting that "Overturning elections begins behind closed doors."
"The vote by the House committee came a day after three hours of detailed testimony on Wednesday from a team of investigators — former prosecutors who were hired by the committee to look into corruption allegations against Mr. Paxton," said the report. "The investigators described how Mr. Paxton had abused and misused his office to help an Austin real estate developer and donor who also hired a woman with whom Mr. Paxton was having a relationship, and how Mr. Paxton created a climate of fear within the office of the attorney general. The misdeeds Mr. Paxton was accused of committing rose to the level of possible criminality, the investigators said, including instances of retaliation against people who spoke up."
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Paxton, who has been at the center of a number of extreme-right GOP efforts, including a case to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act and another to overturn the 2020 presidential election, has long been a close ally of former President Trump, who endorsed Paxton's 2022 re-election bid over a primary challenge from former Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Paxton is also under indictment on securities fraud allegations, although that case has reportedly languished for years without any official trial date being set.