Trump lashed out in particular at Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, who Trump called “barely a Republican at all.” Trump also declared the proceedings “election interference,” and said “Free Ken Paxton, let them wait for the next election!”
In 2020, Paxton asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral defeat of Trump.
Scandals have followed Paxton throughout his career, with the latest accusations of bribery and abuse of public trust resulting in the GOP-majority House convening Saturday to begin impeachment proceedings.
If impeached — as only the third official in Texas’ history to meet such a fate — Paxton would be removed from office pending a Senate trial. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott would appoint an interim replacement. Final removal would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, where Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a member.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also expressed support for Paxton, calling the impeachment proceedings a “travesty” in a series of Tweets Saturday.
“No attorney general has battled the abuses of the Biden admin more ferociously—and more effectively—than has Paxton,” Cruz wrote. “That’s why the swamp in Austin wants him out. The special interests don’t want a steadfast conservative AG. I understand that people are concerned about Ken’s legal challenges. But the courts should sort them out.”
In a statement released Thursday, Paxton called the accusations “hearsay and gossip,” before claiming that the impeachment proceedings were “an attempt to overthrow the will of the people and disenfranchise the voters of our state.”
On Friday, he called for his supporters to “peacefully come let their voices be heard at the Capitol tomorrow.”
During the course of the proceedings Saturday, Republican state Rep. Charlie Geren took to the floor to allege that multiple members of the House body had received direct phone calls from Paxton threatening their political career.
“I would like to point out that several members of this House, while on the floor of this House, doing the state business, received telephone calls from [Attorney] General Paxton personally, threatening them with political consequences in their next election,” Geren said.