The impeachment process began after Mr. Paxton and his former aides said in February that they had reached a $3.3 million settlement in their suit, contingent on the state paying for it. Mr. Paxton requested that the funds be added to the budget, but the speaker of the House, Dade Phelan, said he did not believe it was a good use of taxpayer money. A committee of the House instead began its investigation into the request and underlying allegations.
The committee’s recommendation of impeachment for Mr. Paxton’s “grave offenses” on Thursday marked the first official judgment that his actions warranted potential removal from office.
Mr. Paxton, in his news conference on Friday, demonstrated that he would put up a fight. “The House is poised to do exactly what Joe Biden has been hoping to accomplish since his first day in office,” he said. “Sabotage our work, my work, as attorney general of Texas.”
Throughout the day on Friday, Republicans across Texas received text messages urging them to support Mr. Paxton. The chair of the Republican Party of Texas, a grass-roots organization often at odds with establishment leaders, issued a statement calling the impeachment a “sham” that was “empowering Democrats.”
Dan Rogers, the chair of the Republican Party in Potter County, which includes the city of Amarillo, sent a text message urging people to call their representative and voice support for Mr. Paxton. “He’s standing up against the federal government’s overreach and the ‘deep state’ that’s coming after our state sovereignty and individual sovereignty,” Mr. Rogers said in an interview.
On the floor of the House on Friday, Republican members could be seen talking in small groups before the session got underway. In one instance, two members loomed over another who was seated and, in quiet but forceful tones, appeared to be urging him to vote no.
“It’s hearsay, upon hearsay, upon hearsay,” one of them said, referring to the articles of impeachment and the testimony given by House committee investigators.