Suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton will not testify in front of the Texas Senate during his upcoming impeachment trial, his lead defense lawyer said.

In a July 3 statement, lawyer Tony Buzbee called the 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton “meritless and absurd,” arguing that Texas House leaders “ignored precedent” and are now attempting to “ambush him on the floor of the Senate.”

House lawmakers voted to impeach the third-term Republican on May 27, immediately suspending him from office without pay.

“Attorney General Paxton will not dignify the illegal House action by testifying,” Buzbee said. “We will not bow to their evil, illegal and unprecedented weaponization of state power in the Senate chamber.”

Paxton’s decision challenges the rules governing the trial, which senators adopted June 21. A resolution requires Paxton and his legal defense team to be present for the start of the trial by 9 a.m. Sept. 5.

The rules allow Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the court, to “compel the attendance of witnesses,” issue subpoenas and punish witnesses for contempt of court.

Patrick’s office did not respond to a request for comment from Community Impact.

Previously, Paxton and his lawyers have emphasized the need for a “fair and just” trial in the Senate. This is the first time Paxton has publicly defied the upper chamber.

During the trial, senators will hear testimony and vote on 16 of the 20 articles of impeachment, most of which are related to allegations that Paxton abused his power and resources to help Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor. Paxton can plead guilty or not guilty to each charge.

If he does not appear for the trial or enter a plea, the rules state that the “​​trial shall proceed as on a plea of not guilty.”

Paxton has also been under federal indictment for securities fraud since 2015. The rules state that senators can choose to consider or dismiss the remaining four articles of impeachment, which are related to the indictment, after they vote on the other 16.

Paxton has not stood trial in his securities fraud case. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently ruled that the trial will be held in Harris County.