Patrick slams Texas House after Paxton acquittal: Launching investigation into cost of impeachment

After announcing that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted on all impeachment charges, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick gave the closing statements aiming to guide future legislatures on how to proceed with impeachments — while using a substantial portion of his remarks to deliver a scathing rebuke to the Texas House of Representatives’ handling of the investigation and prosecution.

Patrick started by thanking the staff who assisted him in presiding over and preparing for the trial. He said he issued 240 subpoenas and read “hundreds of pages” of history, procedural rules, and other related material in order to prepare. 

He also thanked the senators for their work as jurors, describing the entire effort of the Senate as a diligent effort — and then turned his remarks toward the lower chamber. 

“In the House, the vote to send articles of impeachment against the attorney general to the Senate happened very quickly, with virtually no time for 150 members to study the 20 articles,” Patrick said. “The Speaker and his team rammed through the first impeachment of a statewide-elected official in Texas in over 100 years while paying no attention to the precedent.”

Patrick noted how historically, officials facing investigation in the House were allowed to appear with legal counsel and cross-examine witnesses under oath to ensure the investigation was fair and thorough, noting the House did not follow this process. 

He also praised the remarks of Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo), who spoke out against the proceedings during the House impeachment vote in what Patrick described as “one of the most honest and courageous speeches I have ever heard in the House.” He cited Smithee’s characterization of the investigation as built on “triple hearsay.” 

Patrick then called for reforms to the Texas Constitution in the next legislative session to prevent failures to follow two historical approaches to impeachment proceedings:  placing witnesses under oath and giving members time to review the charges before voting on them. 

“Any testimony given in a House impeachment investigation must be given under oath and the target must be allowed to be present with a lawyer to cross-examine the witnesses. Otherwise, people can say anything without any accountability or need to be truthful because there is no threat of perjury,” Patrick said. 

He also said the amendment should require the House to give members two weeks to consider impeachment charges and repeal the current provision which immediately suspends officials from office after being impeached by the House alone, noting the the United States Constitution does not function in a similar way. 

“We owe it to future legislatures to make these changes so that no future official impeached by the House, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, is subjected to the way this impeachment process occurred,” Patrick said, further admonishing the Texas House. 

Additionally, Patrick said he will launch an audit to investigate costs incurred by the House due to the impeachment.  

“I will call for a full audit of all taxpayer money spent by the House from the beginning of their investigation in March to today,” Patrick said. “We will provide our costs as well that were forced on us by the House impeachment. One big difference is that the Senate did not pay a huge team of outside lawyers and investigators.”

Patrick’s closing statement quickly drew an equally pointed rebuttal from Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), who doubled down on accusations of corruption against Paxton and criticized the lieutenant governor’s remarks on the House’s handling of the impeachment investigation. 

“Over the last two weeks, the Texas House Board of Managers provided the Texas Senate and the people of Texas extensive evidence of Ken Paxton’s corruption, deception and self-dealing,” Phelan wrote. 

Phelan described the acquittal as an unfortunate decision by the Senate, adding he found it “deeply concerning” that Patrick would conclude by “confessing his bias” after presiding over the trial and placing “contempt for the people’s House” on full display. 

He also added that the impeachment trial would not be the end of the issue, saying Paxton faces additional investigations, along with lawsuits and criminal charges. 

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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