Attorneys for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) are seeking for all but one of the 20 articles of impeachment against him to be dismissed to “preserve” the “people’s will,” they say.
In a Monday filing, Paxton’s lawyers asked if 19 of the articles could be dismissed, arguing they took place before Paxton’s most recent term, which began in January, and thus go against Texas’s “prior-term doctrine,” a rule that states officials cannot be removed from office for an act they committed before they were elected.
Paxton’s attorneys also filed a motion to exclude evidence of any alleged conduct that occurred prior to the start of his term in January.
They said Texas voters should instead decide whether to remove Paxton at the polls, noting voters were “subject to tens of millions of dollars in broadcast advertisements, dozens of newspaper articles, and countless speeches or appearances accusing Attorney General Paxton of the alleged misconduct,” but still reelected him last year.
Paxton’s impeachment trial before the Texas Senate is scheduled to begin in September. He is set to be tried on 20 counts of misconduct, including allegations of bribery, abuse of power and retaliation against whistleblowers. The charges are centered on Paxton’s dealings with friend and political donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor.
The lawyers did not request Article 8 of the impeachment be removed, which accuses Paxton of misusing his official powers by “concealing his wrongful acts in connection with the whistleblower complaints.” Paxton agreed to a $3.3 million settlement with four of his former senior deputies, who said they were fired after reporting Paxton’s alleged abuse of power to federal authorities.
The FBI has investigated Paxton for years after multiple senior aides accused the embattled attorney general of using his office to help Paul, who was being investigated for fraud. Paxton allegedly interfered in litigation for Paul’s benefit, gave him access to nonpublic information while Paul allegedly helped pay for a renovation at Paxton’s home and gave a job to a woman with whom Paxton was having an affair, according to the impeachment documents.
Paul was arrested by the FBI in early June, shortly after the Texas House of Representatives voted 121-23 to impeach the attorney general. A state House investigative committee said it determined Paxton “used, misused, or failed to use his official powers in a manner calculated to subvert the lawful operation of the government.”
Source : The Hill