Texas House lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposed impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton on May 27.

The House General Investigating Committee filed 20 articles of impeachment against the attorney general on May 25. The charges include bribery, obstruction of justice, misuse of public funds and more.

The Republican-led committee began investigating Paxton in March after he asked the Texas Legislature to use $3.3 million in taxpayer money to pay for a settlement between the attorney general and four former staffers.

The employees said they were fired in 2020 after reporting concerns about Paxton’s alleged misconduct.

“We cannot overemphasize the fact that, but for Paxton's own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement over his wrongful conduct, Paxton would not be facing impeachment by the House,” the committee wrote in a memo shared with House members.

Reading from prepared remarks on May 26, Paxton called the investigation and vote “deceitful... unjust and unethical,” arguing that removing him from office would disenfranchise Texas voters, who elected him for a third term in November.

He also encouraged his supporters to “peacefully come let their voices be heard at the Capitol” in opposition to his possible impeachment. Paxton did not say whether he would be present for the vote.

Impeachment proceedings are set to begin in the House at 1 p.m. May 27, the committee said. House lawmakers will have roughly four hours to discuss the case before they take a vote.

The Texas House gallery will be open to the public during the impeachment hearing. The gallery is located on the third floor, in the west wing of the Capitol.

Keep reading to learn about how the impeachment process works in Texas.

Who can be impeached?

The Texas Legislature may impeach any state official or leader of a stage agency. Specific grounds for impeachment are not listed in the Texas Constitution, giving lawmakers the opportunity to determine whether Paxton’s actions warrant removal from office.

During a May 25 general investigating committee hearing, a member of Paxton’s team told reporters the investigation was “illegal,” because the alleged violations occurred in 2020, before Paxton’s latest reelection.

“Any discussion of impeachment is completely foreclosed by Texas law... [which] says clearly that any proposed impeachment can only be about conduct since the most recent election,” said Chris Hilton, the litigation chief for the Texas Attorney General’s Office. “The voters have spoken—they want Ken Paxton.”

He cited the Texas Government Code, which states that officials cannot be removed from office for crimes committed before they were elected.

But in past impeachment cases, the Texas Supreme Court has determined that this does not apply to the removal of state officials.

Only two state officials have been impeached in Texas history: Gov. James Ferguson in 1917 and District Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975.

What happens in the House?

The impeachment process begins in the Texas House. The Texas Government Code grants House members the authority to perform impeachment-related investigations, issue articles of impeachment and act on those articles. This legislative session, the House gave the five-member general investigating committee full authority to conduct investigations and recommend impeachment.

The House will begin impeachment proceedings around 1 p.m. May 27. The committee will present opening remarks for 40 minutes, followed by roughly three hours of debate, split evenly between lawmakers both for and against the proposed impeachment. Twenty minutes will be set aside for closing statements, according to the committee memo.

After the debate, lawmakers will vote. A simple majority, or at least 75 of the 149-member House, is needed to impeach an official.

If the House impeaches Paxton, he would be suspended from office. Gov. Greg Abbott could appoint someone to temporarily take his place or leave the role vacant.

The Senate would then hold a trial to determine if Paxton would be reinstated or permanently removed.

What happens in the Senate?

The House would deliver the articles of impeachment to the governor, lieutenant governor and 31 state senators. If the Senate begins its proceedings before the legislative session ends on May 29, lawmakers could choose to extend the session until the trial is over or return at a later date.

If the Senate does not take action during the session, lawmakers could return to the Capitol through a proclamation signed by the governor, the lieutenant governor, the Senate's president pro tempore or at least 16 senators.

During an impeachment trial, the Senate has similar powers to a district court. Senators can solicit documents and witnesses; request testimony; meet behind closed doors for deliberation and more.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, said the Senate’s trial would be very similar to a federal impeachment trial.

“The House will present the articles of [impeachment], the Senate will discuss those, and they can have witnesses if they want,” Rottinghaus said. “We’ll [hear] testimony and the Senate will debate that evidence, then they’ll take a final vote.”

All 31 senators, who would take an oath of impartiality, must be present during a trial. A two-thirds vote is required to convict an impeached official.

Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a senator representing McKinney. It is unclear if she would be required to vote or if she could excuse herself due to a conflict of interest.

What would this mean for Ken Paxton?

Under state law, Paxton would not be allowed to run for reelection or hold any other state office in Texas.

The Texas Constitution states that officials who are impeached and convicted may be subject to an indictment and criminal trial, based on the crimes they committed. Paxton has been under indictment for securities fraud since 2015, but the case has not gone to trial.