In a historic move, the Texas House voted May 27 to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton over allegations of bribery, conspiracy and other forms of misconduct.

House lawmakers adopted 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton in a 121-23 vote.

“It brings me no pleasure to be standing here today in front of you, dealing with this matter,” said Rep. David Spiller, a Republican member of the House General Investigating Committee. “But we have a duty and an obligation to protect the citizens of Texas from elected officials that abuse their office and their power for personal gain.”

Under state law, Paxton will be immediately suspended from office and barred from performing his official duties as the state’s top lawyer. Gov. Greg Abbott can appoint someone to temporarily take his place or leave the role vacant.

The Texas Senate will conduct a trial to determine if Paxton will be reinstated or permanently removed from office. If two-thirds of senators vote to convict Paxton, he will not be allowed to run for reelection or hold any other state office in Texas.

In a statement shared on Twitter after the vote, Paxton called the House investigation and vote a “politically motivated sham.”

“I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate, where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just,” he wrote.

During the trial, senators will act as jurors and be required to take an oath of impartiality.

The charges against Paxton include bribery, misuse of public funds, dereliction of duty, obstructions of justice and more.

“The evidence is substantial. It is alarming and it is unnerving,” said committee chair Andrew Murr, a Republican.
A screen in the Texas House displays House Resolution 2377, which authorized the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. After four hours of discussion, House members voted 121-23 in favor of impeachment. (Hannah Norton/Community Impact)
House lawmakers discussed House Resolution 2377, which authorized Paxton’s impeachment, for nearly four hours May 27. Before the vote, the five-member general investigating committee explained the charges one-by-one.

“You all get to judge ... are these just individual isolated incidents which you can dismiss, or are they an unexplainable pattern of ongoing criminal conduct?” Rep. Ann Johnson, the committee’s Democratic vice-chair, asked lawmakers before the vote.

Several Republicans expressed concerns with the impeachment process, arguing they needed more time to review the case.

“To make a last-minute decision that he should be impeached is imprudent at best and a gross abuse of power at worst,” Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, said.

The House General Investigating Committee began a probe into Paxton’s alleged misconduct in March, after he asked the Texas Legislature to use public funds to pay for a $3.3 million settlement between Paxton and four of his former employees.

The committee held a hearing May 24, during which investigators discussed the attorney general’s alleged misconduct for over three hours. The articles of impeachment were distributed to House members on May 25.

Murr told lawmakers that “impeachment is not a criminal process. The primary purpose of impeachment is to protect the state, not to punish the individual.”

That evening, Chief House Clerk Stephen Brown sent a letter to Abbott, notifying him of the House's vote.

"I am directed by the House of Representatives to inform you that, pursuant to its authority under Section I, Article XV, Texas Constitution, the House has this day adopted House Resolution 2377, impeaching Warren Kenneth Paxton, Attorney General of the State of Texas," the letter said.

Abbott has not commented on Paxton's impeachment.

It is unclear when the Senate will begin its trial. On the evening of May 27, senators began sharing identical statements explaining that they could not talk about the impeachment case.

“Because we are jurors, we cannot discuss the case with anyone,” the statement said. “Of course we welcome and encourage communication with our constituents, but we cannot engage in discussions.”

Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a state senator representing McKinney. Under state law, she will be required to be present during the trial and vote, unless she recuses herself for a conflict of interest.