AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorneys for Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial are trying to get some of the charges against him dropped, KXAN learned on Friday.
The suspended attorney general’s legal team turned in a motion to dismiss Article 5 of the impeachment to exclude what they called inadmissible evidence.
Article 5 states Paxton misused his power to break the law when it came to how outside attorneys are appointed. Paxton’s team argued Article 5 doesn’t contain an impeachable offense. The inadmissible evidence the other motion refers to is campaign donations made to Paxton in 2018, which the team claimed are irrelevant and politically charged.
In two related motions filed to the Senate last week, Paxton’s attorneys argued impeaching him would usurp the will of voters — considering the majority of allegations were already public and Texans still reelected the attorney general. Paxton’s defense team cited state law known as “prior-term doctrine,” arguing Texas prevents the removal of a public official for alleged conduct that happened prior to their most recent election.
“The Articles allege nothing that Texas voters have not heard from the Attorney General’s losing political opponents — and their donors and supporters — for years. None of the allegations that occurred prior to January 2023 and make up nineteen of the Articles of Impeachment can or should be considered by this court.”
Impeachment trail rules and procedures
As president of the Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will preside over the upcoming trial and act as a judge. Patrick and the Senate set rules for the trial at the end of June. All senators will serve as the jury in the court of impeachment, voting individually on each article. Paxton’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is barred from voting on any of the articles.
At the end of May, the House overwhelmingly voted to impeach Paxton 121-23, causing his immediate suspension from office. No aspect of the trial will include criminal charges; senators’ vote will determine whether or not Paxton must be permanently removed from office. The allegations against Paxton include bribery, abuse of office and obstruction. The Republican has faced controversies and criminal charges hanging over his tenure.
Patrick will decide whether to grant these two motions, along with requests, like Paxton’s team’s ask to remove three Democratic senators from the jury. All parties involved in the impeachment are prohibited from discussing these matters publicly, per a gag order Patrick issued earlier in July.
Attorneys presenting the impeachment articles on behalf of the House Board of Impeachment managers have not filed any responding motions as of 3:30 p.m. on Monday.