Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) will not be compelled to testify in his impeachment trial, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) ruled Tuesday.
Patrick slapped down the case by Paxton opponents who argued that the attorney general could be forced to testify because his Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination didn’t apply in this particular trial, which cannot levy criminal penalties.
But the fact that Paxton will have to plead “guilty” or “not guilty” effectively makes it a criminal case, Patrick argued.
Those terms are “the pleas exclusively used in criminal cases,” Patrick said.
And the state House impeachment managers “have repeatedly compared the actions of the House of Representatives to a grand jury, as they prefer the Articles of Impeachment and grand juries are utilized only in criminal cases,” Patrick said.
“Therefore, the motion is granted.”
It was a small win for the attorney general, who had decisively failed to win Senate support for any of the motions his lawyers had filed that would have thrown out his impeachment trial in whole or in part.
That campaign to dismiss charges had exacerbated a growing divide within the state’s ruling Republican coalition.
But the other motions required all of the Senate to go along, while this one just required a decision from Patrick.
The lieutenant governor is a longtime political ally of Paxton, and following the late May impeachment vote, the lieutenant governor had received $3 million before Paxton’s trial from Defend Texas Liberty, a political action committee backing the attorney general, The Texas Tribune reported.
The Tribune also reported that after taking fire for these donations, Patrick’s campaign announced that he was suspending fundraising during the trial.