Paxton lashes out at Biden administration, Texas House over impeachment

In his first interview since winning a full acquittal in the Texas Senate, Attorney General Ken Paxton lashed out at the Biden administration and spoke against the failed attempt by Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction) to oust him from office via a seldom-used mechanism in the Texas Constitution.

Paxton sat down with Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News personality who now produces content on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“I truly believe it became very political, and I am sitting here because of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I was delivered,” Paxton said. “It wasn’t just about the law, it became political completely, and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out on the political side.”

After the Senate’s decision on Saturday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick reinstated Paxton to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The Texas House’s unsuccessful effort to remove Paxton began in February when the House General Investigating Committee began secretly investigating allegations that Paxton accepted bribes and abused his office. Paxton has never been charged with bribery by either state or federal authorities.

Murr is the chair of the investigative committee and was the leading proponent of removing Paxton from office, an effort facilitated and unreservedly supported by Phelan.

The investigation culminated in the committee’s recommendation that the House impeach Paxton. The chamber voted to send 20 articles of impeachment to the Senate by a vote of 121 to 23. Most of the votes in favor of impeachment came from Democrats.

Members of the House had less than 72 hours to consider the recommendation before casting their votes.

The Texas Senate tried only 16 of the charges, holding four of them in abeyance. In a series of votes on Saturday, the chamber acquitted Paxton on all of the charges that went to trial and dismissed the rest.

Most of the Republican caucus in the House voted to impeach Paxton. In contrast, Sens. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) were the only Senate Republicans to vote to sustain any of the charges.

Most of the articles of impeachment were lost by a vote of 14 yeas to 16 nays. However, one of the articles was defeated by a vote of two yeas to 28 nays. 

Asked by Carlson about the political dynamics in Texas, Paxton explained that Democrats in the Texas House typically unify behind a preferred Republican candidate for speaker, who then only needs to pick up a few GOP votes to secure a victory.

Phelan won the speakership in the 87th and 88th Legislatures with little real opposition.

Paxton speculated that the Biden administration convinced Democrats to apply pressure to Phelan.

“I don’t think the Biden administration went to Phelan, I think they went to the Democrats, and the Democrats said, ‘This is what we want. We want him out.’ Because I was causing so much trouble for the Biden administration,” Paxton told Carlson.

Paxton also blamed Texans for Lawsuit Reform, political operative Karl Rove, and other “forces” that backed his failed ouster.

The attorney general repeated the allegation that Phelan presided over the House chamber while intoxicated. Carlson played a video for his viewers in which Phelan slurred his words and struggled to articulate a basic parliamentary function.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt. He was definitely drunk,” Paxton said.

Reflecting on his decade serving in the House, he added, “I’ve seen lots of alcohol on the floor, I’ve seen lots of people drunk. But it’s really unusual for the speaker to do that.”

Paxton originally made the claim shortly before Murr’s committee disclosed the fact that it had spent months investigating the attorney general. Phelan called it a “last ditch effort to save face.”

Special prosecutors are still pursuing Paxton’s conviction on securities fraud charges in Harris County. Those charges were filed in 2015 and have been delayed for a variety of reasons, including fights over compensation for the prosecutors, jurisdictional issues, and Hurricane Harvey.

While Paxton is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation, federal agents have not filed any criminal complaints against him.

Many other issues were covered in the interview, including Paxton’s incredulity that he was removed from office on unsworn testimony and placed under a gag order as well as the OAG’s antitrust lawsuit against Google. 

Paxton noted that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals took away his authority to prosecute election fraud after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021 into law.

“I think for anybody that cares about democracy, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, that that should be the number one thing, and for the media to constantly shut down the conversation about this, and for social media companies, technology companies to shut down the conversation tells me that there’s a reason they don’t want us talking about it,” Paxton said.

“It’s insane how you get treated for even bringing it up, when in reality, I don’t think there’s a more important issue even than immigration or anything because all those other issues will be affected by whether we have real elections that we can trust.”

Paxton went on to state his belief that mail-in ballots are highly susceptible to cheating and that voter fraud is seldom prosecuted because many jurisdictions have created systems that make it difficult to prove.

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