AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made his first statements about presiding over a potential impeachment trial for Attorney General Ken Paxton in an interview for Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics.
"I don’t cast a vote. The 31 members cast a vote. I preside over it," Patrick told WFAA. "But we will all be responsible as any juror would be if that turns out to be and I think the members will do their duty."
On Thursday, the Republican-led House General Investigating Committee voted unanimously to send articles of impeachment to the floor of the state House of Representatives.
The 20 charges alleged by the House committee include conspiracy, misappropriation of public resources, dereliction of duty, abuse of public trust, unfitness for office and making false statements in official records.
If the Texas House of Representatives votes to impeach Paxton, the Collin County Republican would stand trial on the charges in the Texas Senate.
“It comes to the Texas Senate, there will be a trial conducted. I’m not at liberty to say anything really beyond that because I will be presiding over that case and the senators – all 31 senators – will have a vote. We’ll set the rules for that trial as we go forward and we’ll see how that develops,” Patrick said.
Texas has not seen an impeachment of a statewide official for more than a century.
By a vote of 25 to 3, the state Senate in 1917 found Texas Gov. James Ferguson guilty on five charges relating to mishandling of public funds and abuse of power.
On Wednesday, Paxton said in a statement posted to Twitter that “every allegation is easily disproved.”
On Thursday, after the House committee voted for impeachment, Paxton complained “this process provided no opportunity for rebuttal or due process. They even refused to allow a senior attorney from my office to provide facts.”
Sources told WFAA that the Texas House will likely vote on impeachment charges in the next 48 hours.
If the House, which has a Republican majority, impeaches Paxton, the case will then go to the Texas Senate for trial. A trial date is uncertain as the legislature is set to adjourn on Monday.
An impeachment would operate separately from the regular legislative session and lawmakers do not have to be called back for it like the governor would do in a special legislative session.
The criminal allegations charges relate to Paxton’s relationship with Nate Paul, a Paxton donor and Austin developer.