Texas attorney general Paxton seeks dismissal of impeachment articles

July 31 (Reuters) – Lawyers for suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday asked the state Senate to dismiss all but one of the articles of impeachment against him.

In two motions filed before the Texas Senate’s court of impeachment, Paxton’s attorneys argued that 19 of the 20 articles of impeachment are based on allegations of wrongdoing that took place before he began his third term in office in January.

Paxton’s attorneys argue that Senate rules do not allow for the removal of public officials over acts that took place before their current term in office.

All 31 members of the Texas Senate make up the court of impeachment. It was not immediately known when the senators would vote on Paxton’s motions. His impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 5.

Texas’ Republican-dominated House in May voted to impeach Paxton, a conservative firebrand backed by former President Donald Trump. The accusations he faces include improperly aiding a wealthy political donor, conducting a sham investigation against whistleblowers in his office whom he fired, and covering up his wrongdoing in a separate federal securities fraud case against him.

The lone article Paxton’s lawyers did not ask be dismissed involved accusations that he concealed acts of wrongdoing in connection to his settlement of a whistleblower lawsuit in February.

Paxton, 60, this year asked House lawmakers to approve the state payment of the $3.3 million settlement reached with the whistleblowers, all four of who are former staff members. That budget request is what triggered Paxton’s impeachment by the House.

Paxton’s legal team wrote in the motions that the articles of impeachment “allege nothing that Texas voters have not heard from the Attorney General’s political opponents for years” and yet he still easily won re-election. Removing him from office, they argue, would thwart voters’ will.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the trial as president of the Senate, has imposed a gag order on Paxton’s attorneys and on the House managers who will prosecute the case before the Senate.

Paxton has been temporarily suspended from office pending his impeachment trial.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott this month appointed his longtime aide Angela Colmenero to serve as interim attorney general.

Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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