Following the acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton, former President Donald Trump and a number of Texas politicians are calling on House Speaker Dade Phelan to step down after he pushed for the attorney general’s impeachment and removal from office.
The political battle between Paxton and Phelan (R-Beaumont) became fiery after the House General Investigating Committee launched an investigation into the attorney general based on the allegedly unverified claims of former staffers.
Such claims formed the basis of 20 articles of impeachment that the House quickly adopted with Speaker Phelan’s endorsement during the final hours of the regular legislative session. However, after a two-week trial in the Senate, most senators voted to acquit Paxton on 16 charges and dismiss the rest.
Phelan and his top lieutenants, such as Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), have been facing political blowback for the impeachment effort, including from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who scolded the House on Saturday after Paxton was returned to office, as reported by The Dallas Express.
Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian), who opposed impeachment from the start, called for Phelan’s resignation mere minutes after Paxton’s acquittal.
“The staggering incompetence and dishonest conduct on display by the leadership of the Texas House, House General Investigating Committee, and Board of Managers must be repudiated. … I am calling on Speaker Dade Phelan to step down immediately,” he said in a statement.
Others echoed Harrison’s call, describing the case against Paxton as weak, inept, and wasteful.
Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Texas Republican Party and a staunch Phelan critic, said, “Speaker Dade Phelan and his leadership team should be embarrassed for putting Texas through the time and expense of this political sham of an impeachment.”
“We invite the House Republican Caucus to choose leadership moving forward who will unify a Republican governing coalition behind our common goals, instead of sharing power with Democrats who use it to persecute our Republican statewide office holders,” he added.
Perhaps the biggest name to call for Phelan’s resignation was former President Donald Trump, who is currently the heavy favorite to win the state’s GOP presidential primary.
“It is time that Speaker Dade Phelan resign after pushing this Disgraceful Sham!” he declared on Truth Social. “Congratulations to Attorney General Ken Paxton on a great and historic Texas sized VICTORY.”
For his part, Phelan lashed out at the Senate and Lt. Gov. Patrick specifically, calling the trial a farce and the conclusion rigged.
“Over the last two weeks, the Texas House Board of Managers provided the Texas Senate and the people of Texas extensive evidence of Ken Paxton’s corruption, deception and self-dealing,” he claimed. “It is extremely unfortunate that after hearing and evaluating this evidence, the Texas Senate chose not to remove him from office.”
“Moreover, I find it deeply concerning that after weeks of claiming he would preside over this trial in an impartial and honest manner, Lt. Governor Patrick would conclude by confessing his bias and placing his contempt for the people’s House on full display,” the speaker said.
“To be clear, Patrick attacked the House for standing up against corruption. His tirade disrespects the Constitutional impeachment process afforded to us by the founders of this great state,” Phelan alleged. “The inescapable conclusion is that today’s outcome appears to have been orchestrated from the start.”