Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: Statement on the Completion of Impeachment Trial


AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued this statement today following the Texas Senate’s decision to acquit Attorney General Warren Kenneth Paxton, Jr. on 16 articles of impeachment:

“I have been unusually quiet since the Texas House of Representatives sent the Senate articles of impeachment against the attorney general on very short notice in the final hours of the regular legislative session. The law requires the Senate to receive the articles and have a trial, and once I realized I would be the presiding officer and judge, I thought it was my duty to be quiet on this issue. I have done my very best to do so these last 3 months and these 2 weeks. I spent most of the last 90 days preparing for this trial. I have issued over 240 subpoenas, studied numerous motions, written multiple orders, read hundreds of pages of history, rules, and documents, and worked on every detail of this trial.

“I want to thank the Rules Committee for their tireless work writing rules that some have said are the finest rules ever written on impeachment. All of us studied past impeachments from across the country to learn from the mistakes of past impeachments so we would not make the same errors. The Rules Committee should be proud of their work.

“I want to thank the Senators for doing their work in a thorough, thoughtful, and professional manner. I watched all of you each day listening intently to every word of testimony. Many of you took notes non-stop.

“I feel it is 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.

“In the past, 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. At the conclusion of past House investigations, the evidence was laid out for weeks for House members to evaluate before they took their vote on articles of impeachment.

“Rep. John Smithee, a long-time House member, spoke on the House Floor during the impeachment vote in May. He was one of only 23 who voted against impeachment. Rep. Smithee said that the House could not legitimately impeach AG Paxton on the record because there was no record to send to the Senate. He said the House was not following the rule of law, and he said the House approach was, and I quote:

“Hang ’em now and judge them later.”

Rep. Andrew Murr, the Chair of the House Investigating Committee, said on the House floor:

“This [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. As Rep. Smithee said, the last House impeachment of a statewide-elected official, in 1917 of Gov. Ferguson, was conducted like a full trial in the House before it was sent to the Senate. Witnesses were put under oath and cross examined by the defendant. Rep. Smithee said this time, no House witnesses were put under oath and the defendant was denied the right to cross examine. Rep. Smithee told his fellow members the House process was indefensible and that the House did not follow the rules of evidence and their case was based on triple hearsay that would never be allowed in court.

“I think Rep. Smithee’s speech was one of the most honest and courageous speeches I have ever heard in the House.

“In the next regular session, we must amend the Texas Constitution on the issue of impeachment, because the way the constitution is currently written allowed this flawed process to happen this year. Any testimony given in a House impeachment investigation 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.

“The House must also give all House members a minimum of 2 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.

“When the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, the official in question should not be put on unpaid leave through the process. The federal system does not allow that. President Clinton and President Trump did not have to step down from their duties during their impeachment process. 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. 31 Senators and a large Senate staff that made this trial possible have put their family life, jobs, and businesses on hold for 3 months after being here already from January to June.

“I will call for a full audit of all taxpayer money spent by the House from the beginning of their investigation in March to today. 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.

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