(AUSTIN, Texas) — When Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton goes on trial later this year in the state Senate after being impeached, one lawmaker in the chamber will be barred from casting a vote: his wife.
Angela Paxton, who represents state Senate District 8, will not be able to take part in closed sessions or vote on “any matter, motion, or question” during the trial, according to rules for the trial that were adopted late Wednesday night.
The 31 rules were produced after two days of closed session and passed 25-3. Angela Paxton voted nay.
Her presence at the trial is still required and, even as a non-voter, her seat will contribute to the overall calculation for the vote: With 31 senators seated, 21 votes are required to permanently remove the attorney general from office.
Days before the adoption of the rules, Angela Paxton issued a statement via Twitter saying she would “carry out [her] duties” but did not specify whether she would vote — now no longer an option for her.
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, she said that the rules of the trial didn’t allow her to comment beyond the vote she cast. “I hold my constitutional obligations sacred, and my understanding of those obligations has not changed. I will continue to do everything in my power to be a voice for the people of [my district],” she said.
Another rule specifies that the body will notify the attorney general of a new trial start time of Sept. 5. Originally, the state House called for the proceedings to begin no later than Aug. 28.
The rules also allow Ken Paxton’s defense to be heard and have “access to the floor of the Senate at all times” and “be provided seats on the floor of the Senate, except when the court of impeachment is in closed session.”
Each side will be given 24 total hours for evidence presentation.
“After 2 days of thoughtful deliberation, the Texas Senate has adopted rules for the impeachment trial of Attorney General Paxton. The Senate will perform its duty per the Texas Constitution,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the chamber, said in a statement.
Last month, an investigative committee in the state House brought 20 articles of impeachment against Ken Paxton, now in his third term as attorney general.
He was accused of multiple forms of misconduct, including bribery, obstruction of justice and misappropriation of public resources. He was subsequently impeached in a 121-23 vote, with many Republicans — who control the state Legislature — voting against him.
The case for Paxton’s impeachment traces back to 2020, when top aides accused him of abuse of office to benefit a donor, himself and his alleged mistress.
In a defiant statement last month, Paxton called the proceedings “unjust” and a partisan “sham,” and dismissed the case against him as “false statements and outright lies.”
Members of the state Senate committee that recommended the rules for his trial, including five Republicans and two Democrats appointed by Patrick, have not spoken publicly about the details of their work.
A gag order has also been issued, so Senate members are not permitted to publicly discuss the case.
Paxton’s legal defense had urged the committee to submit rules that would allow for the tossing out of the House impeachment articles. In a news conference, Tony Buzbee, a lead defense lawyer known well by many Texans, labeled the articles “bologna,” criticizing the House for not allowing the attorney general to defend himself and for, in his words, rushing the impeachment proceedings, which he called a “hurried, kangaroo court.”
Rusty Hardin and Dick DeGuerin, the prosecutors hired by the House impeachment managers and who are also household names in Texas, have defended the proceedings.
In a statement, Hardin wrote, “The House impeachment proceedings were analogous to a grand jury proceeding. They were designed simply to decide whether these serious allegations merited being presented to the Senate in a full-blown trial. That is all the House has decided so far. All of the due process, transparency, and presentation of evidence that his lawyers are concerned about will be observed in a trial before the Senate.”
Under state law, Ken Paxton has been suspended since being impeached, with an interim attorney general named by Gov. Greg Abbott.
If he is removed from office, he will be barred from holding future elected office in Texas.
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