In a shocking development on Thursday, a Republican-controlled investigative committee in the Republican-controlled state legislature recommended impeachment charges against a prominent elected Republican state official.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was hit on Thursday with a recommendation of 20 articles of impeachment from the Texas House General Investigating Committee, Breitbart reported.
Those articles of impeachment could be brought to the floor of the Texas House for a full vote within a matter of days, and if passed by a simple majority of members, would trigger an impeachment trial in the Senate and Paxton's removal and disqualification from office if two-thirds of the state senators vote to convict.
The General Investigating Committee surprisingly revealed earlier this week that it had quietly been investigating several serious allegations against AG Paxton about a prominent real estate developer who is a close friend and donor, Nate Paul.
Paxton stands accused of bribery, misconduct, and misuse of official resources in multiple instances to take actions that benefited Paul.
The AG is alleged to have intervened on behalf of Paul in a lawsuit filed against him by a charitable foundation; of surreptitiously having a legal opinion written by staffers to benefit Paul; of refusing to release properly requested public records; of secretly providing non-public information to Paul; and of engaging an outside attorney to misuse grand jury subpoenas in a manner that benefited Paul's businesses.
Paxton is also alleged to have fired whistleblowers in his own office in retaliation for raising concerns; of conducting a "sham investigation" into those whistleblowers; and of using taxpayer funds in a settlement to keep the whistleblowers quiet. He is also accused of bribery on two counts, including that a mistress with whom Paxton had an extramarital affair was then employed by Paul and that Paxton received home renovations from Paul.
The attorney general is further alleged to have engaged in several acts of abuse of the judicial process, including with regard to a prior grand jury indictment against himself, and of making false statements in official records on multiple occasions, as well as allegations of conspiracy, misappropriation of public resources, dereliction of duty, being unfit for office, and abuse of the public's trust.
Breitbart noted that if the Texas House votes to impeach AG Paxton, he will be immediately suspended from office pending a Senate trial, per Article 15, Section 5 of the Texas Constitution.
That same section also states that while an impeached state official is suspended pending trial, the state's governor, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, is authorized to make a "provisional appointment" as a temporary replacement for the suspended official until a final decision is rendered on whether to convict or acquit.
It is unclear when an impeachment trial in the Texas Senate would commence if the House votes to move forward with the impeachment of Paxton, but it would presumably happen within a short period.
In an interview with local ABC affiliate WFAA following the impeachment news, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who would preside over a Senate trial, said, "I don’t cast a vote. The 31 members cast a vote. I preside over it. But we will all be responsible as any juror would be if that turns out to be, and I think the members will do their duty."
"It comes to the Texas Senate, there will be a trial conducted," he added. "I’m not at liberty to say anything really beyond that because I will be presiding over that case and the senators -- all 31 senators -- will have a vote. We’ll set the rules for that trial as we go forward and we’ll see how that develops."