The Texas attorney general currently suspended and facing an impeachment trial in the state’s Senate is lashing out at lawmakers, vowing not to participate in a process he has called illegal and politicised — despite all involved being Republicans.
Ken Paxton vowed on Monday that he would not testify in the upcoming trial set to be held in the Texas state Senate over a list of accusations that paints a damning picture of corruption in his office. The embattled Mr Paxton, a known warrior for conservative causes in the court system as part of his efforts to build a statewide profile, has been accused of taking bribes from a campaign donor, then using his office’s power to shield that same donor from legal action. He’s also alleged to have retaliated against whistleblowers in his office who came forward to speak about the supposed scheme.
The statement, first reported by the Texas Tribune, came via Mr Paxton’s attorney Tony Buzbee.
“We will not bow to their evil, illegal, and unprecedented weaponisation of state power in the Senate chamber,” said Mr Buzbee.
He added: “The House has ignored precedent, denied him an opportunity to prepare his defense, and now wants to ambush him on the floor of the Senate. They had the opportunity to have Attorney General Paxton testify during their sham investigation but refused to do so.”
Mr Paxton has long denied the allegations against him — though evasively, as the Tribune and other state media have noted, and has focused the majority of his efforts in recent weeks on criticising the individuals behind his impeachment in the state House of Representatives. At a May press conference addressing the issue, he accused his Republican critics in the House of working to thwart his efforts to champion conservative causes in the courts.
“The corrupt politicians in the Texas House are demonstrating that blind loyalty to Speaker Dade Phelan is more important than upholding their oath of office,” he said at the time. “They are determined to ignore the law. They have denied me the opportunity to present the evidence which contradicts their politically motivated narrative.”
“The House is poised to do exactly what Joe Biden has been hoping to accomplish since his first day in office: sabotage our work, my work, as attorney general of Texas,” Mr Paxton added at that press conference.
He has proceeded to also level unfounded charges of alcohol abuse by the speaker of the Texas House, Dade Phelan, and called for Mr Phelan’s resignation. Others, during the House impeachment process, claimed that they received threatening phone calls from Mr Paxton ahead of the vote.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate of the state of Texas have shown no sign, however, of relenting in the face of his bluster. Mr Paxton’s trial is due to begin on 5 September.
His wife, a state senator, will be barred on voting for or against his conviction.