Texas Lt. Gov. calls for constitutional amendment preventing more impeachments like AG Paxton's

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said, “It’s important to set the full record straight for the future, so the full picture of what happened is known and how it was we got here.”

Published: September 16, 2023 10:46pm

(The Center Square) -

After the Senate acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton on all impeachment charges Saturday morning, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick chastised the House for bringing the impeachment charges to the Senate to begin with.

He said, “It’s important to set the full record straight for the future, so the full picture of what happened is known and how it was we got here.”

“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. 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.”

He said in previous investigations, “the target of the investigation was notified and invited to attend with counsel and given the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses that were placed under oath before testimony was taken.” After the investigation was conducted, “the evidence was laid out for weeks for House members to evaluate before they took their vote on articles of impeachment.”

He referred to state Rep. John Smithee, who spoke against the House impeaching Paxton, and who was one of only 23 Republicans who voted against impeaching Paxton. Smithee argued the House could not legitimately impeach Paxton “because there was no record to send to the Senate.” He also said, “the House was not following the rule of law” and its approach amounted to “Hang 'em now and judge them later."

He also chastised Rep. Andrew Murr, the Chair of the House Investigating Committee, who said the House “is not the body that does the fact-finding, the fact-finding occurs in the Senate and oath for any witness would occur there.”

“That is just not true,” Patrick said. None of the witnesses who spoke to the GIC were put under oath, there was no public investigation, the House members were given no time to review any of the charges or ask questions of the witnesses. Patrick also agreed with Smithee’s warning that the House process was indefensible, wasn’t following the rules of evidence and their accusations were based on triple hearsay that would never be allowed in any court in America.

Patrick said Smithee’s remarks were “one of the most honest and courageous speeches I have ever heard in the House.”

He also called for the legislature in the next regular session to amend the Texas Constitution because the way it is currently written “allowed this flawed process to happen.”

He said any future testimony for any future House impeachment investigations “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.”

He also said the House must “give all members a minimum of two weeks to review all evidence given under oath before voting on such a serious matter. Had they done these two things in May, this trial may never have happened.”

He also said, “This is not a partisan issue. 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.”

“Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment,” he said. He is also calling for a full audit of all taxpayer money the House spent on impeachment proceedings, from when they started their investigation in March to the conclusion of the trial.

“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,” he said.

“An impeachment should never happen again in the House like it happened this year.”

After Paxton’s acquittal, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement, saying, "The jury has spoken. Attorney General Paxton received a fair trial as required by the Texas Constitution. Attorney General Paxton has done an outstanding job representing Texas, especially pushing back against the Biden Administration. I look forward to continuing to work with him to secure the border and protect Texas from federal overreach."

Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi also issued a statement, saying, “Today, after a trial in which the House could muster no evidence of a crime, the Texas Senate overwhelmingly voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton of all counts.

“Speaker Dade Phelan and his leadership team should be embarrassed for putting Texas through the time and expense of this political sham of an impeachment. We invite the House Republican Caucus to choose leadership moving forward who will unify a Republican governing coalition behind our common goals, instead of sharing power with Democrats who use it to persecute our Republican statewide office holders. We welcome Ken Paxton back to the Attorney General’s Office and anticipate many more conservative victories defending Texas and preserving the America we love for our children and grandchildren.”

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