Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will reportedly not be testifying at his forthcoming impeachment trial, which his attorney decried as “illegal.”
Paxton has served as the attorney general for the Lone Star state under Republican Governor Greg Abbott since January 2015 but has been suspended since May after the Texas House of Representatives voted to impeach him. The articles of impeachment, 20 in all, included numerous allegations that Paxton abused the power of his office to engage in corrupt activities, such as giving preferential treatment to one of his wealthy campaign donors, Nate Paul, and obstructing a securities fraud investigation against him. He now awaits an impeachment trial before the Texas Senate, set to begin on September 5.
Paxton is only the third elected official in Texas history to be impeached and the first in around 50 years. The state House voted overwhelmingly in favor of impeachment, 121 to 23, with two members voting “present.”
In a statement released on Monday evening, according to the Texas Tribune, Paxton’s lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, insisted that the suspended attorney general would not be giving testimony at the trial.
“We will not bow to their evil, illegal, and unprecedented weaponization of state power in the Senate chamber,” Buzbee said.
In the event that Paxton did not cooperate, the Texas Senate could attempt to compel his testimony. Buzbee noted in his statement that the attorney general’s legal team would fight all such efforts to do so.
The statement, as noted by the Tribune, stops short of explicitly criticizing the state Senate, exclusively excoriating the actions of the state House. Paxton in the past said that he looked forward to receiving a “fair” trial before the Senate. Buzbee’s claim that they would fight efforts to compel his testimony, however, marked the first time that Paxton or his team have made any sort of attack against the Senate’s plans for the trial.
Buzbee’s statement on Monday echoed Paxton’s past assertion that the impeachment trial against him is illegal on the grounds that Texas law prohibits a government official from being removed from office for something they did before their “election to office.” Paxton argued that this law would invalidate any attempt to impeach him for conduct prior to his successful reelection to a third term last year. The Texas House pushed back, arguing that this law has no bearing on impeachment proceedings whatsoever.
Newsweek reached out to a Texas House spokesperson via email for comment.
The post Texas AG Ken Paxton Won’t Testify at ‘Illegal’ Trial, Attorney Says appeared first on Newsweek.