Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has vehemently denied rumors that he would resign before his upcoming impeachment trial.
“Wrong! I will never stop fighting for the people of Texas and defending our conservative values,” Mr. Paxton wrote on social media in response to the rumors.
On Saturday, Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report, tweeted about “credible chatter” that the suspended AG would resign to avoid taking the stand at the Senate trial, which is set to kick off on Sept. 5.
“There’s credible chatter in the last 24 hours that Texas AG Paxton will resign prior to the impeachment trial to avoid testifying. Lt. Gov. Patrick *may* be back-channeling to Paxton that it won’t go well for him in the Texas Senate and to make it easier on everyone. Developing…,” Braddock wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is president of the Senate and will preside over the impeachment trial, also fired back at Mr. Braddock on X, calling the story “outrageous and irresponsible.”
“This is total false reporting. There are no ‘back-channel’ conversations with any party to the proceedings.
‘This is a fabricated story and an outrageous and irresponsible tweet by nothing but a hack writer who often spreads false information without any facts,” Mr. Patrick said on X.
GOP Pressure Mounts
Mr. Patrick has been described as the “most powerful figure in Texas politics,” and he has repeatedly vowed to oversee a fair trial. As the judge of the trial, his actions are expected to be examined under the lens of a microscope, given the division among Texas Republicans in the House and Senate.
“He’s been above the fray to this point,” Jerry Polinard, professor emeritus at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, told The Dallas Morning News. “Given his ties with Paxton and his standing as the most powerful figure in Texas politics, it will be interesting to see how he handles the trial as it unfolds.”
Mr. Patrick will have his own counsel to assist him during the impeachment trial of his fellow Republican.
On Monday, he named retired Judge Lana Myers as his legal counsel, as permitted in the trial rules.
“Today, pursuant to the Rules of Impeachment adopted by the member of the Senate, I am pleased to appoint Justice Lana Myers to assist me during the upcoming impeachment trial, which starts on September 5. Justice Myers is an extremely qualified candidate with experience as an attorney and a judge,” Mr. Patrick said in a statement.
Ms. Myers most recently served as a Justice of the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2022, covering several counties in North Texas, including Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Rockwall, and Grayson, according to the news release. She was appointed by former Gov. Rick Perry (R).
She also served as a judge in Dallas County from 1995 to 2009 and as an assistant district attorney for Dallas County from 1982 to 1994.
Earlier Choice Backed Out
Ms. Myers’s appointment came after Mr. Patrick’s first choice, retired Houston appellate judge Marc Brown, backed out a day after the appointment was announced.
Mr. Brown declined the appointment after the Texas Tribune reportedly inquired about a $250 political contribution he and his wife made to Eva Gusman’s campaign in 2021. Ms. Guzman is a former state Supreme Court justice who attempted to unseat Mr. Paxton in the Republican primary.
Mr. Brown said in a letter dated Aug. 19 that he had not recalled the contribution until the day after accepting the counsel role. (pdf)
“I did not recall that during our meetings with your staff,” Mr. Brown wrote, adding that he had “full confidence” that he could be fair in offering legal advice on the impeachment matter but that the proceedings “are far too important to the State of Texas for there to be any distractions involving allegations of favoritism or personal bias on my part.”
According to The Dallas Morning News, Mr. Brown had also received campaign contributions from some Houston lawyers representing Mr. Paxton.
About the Impeachment
Mr. Paxton was impeached in May and suspended from duty without pay over allegations that he misused his power to block a federal investigation into Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, whose business was raided by the FBI in 2019.
The real estate developer allegedly bankrolled a home remodel for Mr. Paxton and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton and provided a job to the woman accused of having an affair with the attorney general in exchange for his protection.
Ms. Paxton will be required to sit on the Senate floor during her husband’s impeachment trial. However, under the rules approved earlier this summer, she is barred from participating as a juror. (pdf)
“A member of the court who is the spouse of a party to the court of impeachment is considered to have a conflict pursuant to Article III, Section 22, of the Texas Constitution,” reads the rules of impeachment.
Ms. Paxton’s ineligibility increases the two-thirds threshold needed to convict Mr. Paxton on each article of impeachment from 20 to 21.
The trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Sept. 5.