Attorneys for suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have asked that the majority of the articles of impeachment brought against him be dismissed, arguing he can’t be tried for alleged actions that took place before his current term.
In a filing to the state Senate’s impeachment court on Monday, Paxton’s attorneys sought to dismiss 19 of the 20 articles of impeachment, citing a rule known as “prior-term doctrine.” The rule, they argued, would prevent an official from being impeached over alleged conduct that precedes their most recent election.
The move comes after the Texas House of Representatives impeached Paxton in May for alleged misconduct, including allegations that he used his office to favor the interests of a prominent donor. He has denied the allegations. Under the Texas Constitution, Paxton is suspended from office while the matter is pending but would be reinstated if acquitted by the Senate.
CNN has reached out to the Texas Senate about the filings.
In a second motion filed Monday, Paxton’s team also asked that evidence of “any alleged conduct” that occurred prior to January 2023 when Paxton began his third term in office be excluded from the state Senate’s trial.
“The allegations making up the Articles contain unsupported, vague, and irrelevant assertions of non-impeachable conduct,” the motion to exclude evidence stated, adding that the articles “are not based on any alleged conduct that occurred after the election of November 2022, or after [Paxton] began his third term in January 2023.”
Paxton’s attorneys said at the outset of the motion that the state House and its counsel “promised the public that the evidence against the Attorney General is ‘clear, compelling and decisive’ and ‘ten times worse than what has been public.’”
But, they argued, “now that the House Managers have been forced by this Court to turn over their evidence through document production, it is clear that the evidence the House Managers have gathered is 100 times less compelling that what has been proclaimed.”
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has since appointed former Texas Secretary of State John Scott as a temporary replacement, while Paxton awaits his September 5 impeachment trial.
During the Senate impeachment trial, the lieutenant governor will function as the judge and the senators will serve as jurors. A two-thirds vote of those present would be required to convict. Attorneys for Paxton said earlier this month he will not testify during the trial.
CNN previously reported that he is also facing an FBI investigation for abuse of office and that Justice Department prosecutors in Washington, DC, took over a corruption investigation into Paxton. He is also under indictment for securities fraud in a separate, unrelated case. Paxton has denied all charges and allegations.