Conservative Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was temporarily suspended from office on Saturday following action taken by the establishment Republican-led Texas House of Representatives.
The suspension of AG Paxton was automatic per Texas law after the House voted 121-23 to impeach him on allegations of bribery, corruption, and official misconduct, the Daily Wire reported.
Paxton will remain suspended until a Senate impeachment trial concludes with either his acquittal and return to work or a conviction and removal plus disqualification from office, and in the meantime will be temporarily replaced with a stand-in appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
Axios reported that the House vote on Saturday to impeach AG Paxton -- only the third official to ever be impeached in Texas history -- followed the surprise revelation on Tuesday that he had been secretly under investigation for the past several months by the Texas House General Investigating Committee.
That committee had voted unanimously to recommend 20 articles of impeachment against the attorney general that largely involve allegations of bribery, corruption, and misconduct in relation to a close friend and donor of Paxton's, real estate developer Nate Paul.
They include accusations that Paxton took various actions and misused state resources in an effort to benefit his friend and his business.
Several of the articles are also in relation to allegations that Paxton fired four employees from his office in retaliation for them raising concerns about his conduct as well as a failed attempt to use $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars in a settlement to keep the whistleblowers silent and end a lawsuit they had filed.
Per Axios, it was Paxton's request to the legislature for those settlement funds -- which the House rejected -- that triggered the secretive committee investigation of the attorney general.
Following Saturday's vote, AG Paxton released a fiery statement that decried the "ugly spectacle" and "outrageous impeachment plot" against him that was "never meant to be fair or just" and was little more than a "politically motivated sham from the beginning."
He further lamented how the investigating committee had refused to allow him an opportunity to speak or present evidence in his own defense and "disregarded the law, ignored the facts, and demonstrated contempt for Texas voters."
Paxton also took issue with moderate Republican Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan for being "focused on political retribution against conservatives" instead of passing laws to further the conservative policy agenda, as well as Phelan's "coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans" who now essentially were sided with the "Biden administration, the abortion industry, anti-gun zealots, and woke corporations" that were trying to sabotage him.
"I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical, and profoundly unjust," the impeached attorney general concluded. "I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just."
Axios reported that it was unclear when the Texas Senate, which is set to conclude the legislative session on Monday, would conduct the impeachment trial of AG Paxton that would require a two-thirds majority for conviction, though an announcement in that regard could be made on Monday.
If the session concludes without any such details about a trial, the senators could be called back into session by Gov. Abbott, who has thus far been silent on the matter, or Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the trial, or the Senate's president pro tempore, or even a simple majority of the senators themselves.