Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Attorney General Paxton's impeachment acquittal: 'House had terrible case'

Tom Abrahams Image
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Ken Paxton's impeachment trial: ABC13 speaks with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick after attorney general's acquittal
Following the impeachment trial conclusion of Attorney General Ken Paxton, only ABC13 spoke with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick about his reaction from Paxton's acquittal.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the first time, ABC13 is hearing from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick after the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Lt. Gov. Patrick told ABC13 his role as presiding judge was the most challenging thing he's done professionally. Patrick said he did not know what the outcome would be until the verdicts were read. In addition to the fiery admonishment of a speech he read on the floor after the vote, he also had an alternate version.

"When I say I wrote two speeches, it is true because I didn't know going into Saturday morning if he was going to be convicted on one or two (articles)," Patrick said. "I didn't think he was going to be convicted on many because in part - and this is another problem with the House, the articles were written so poorly. I mean, like a 12th-grade project. And I had my remarks prepared but I was still going to give the same remarks about the process because it didn't matter at the end of the day, acquittal or conviction, about what the House did."

Patrick would not characterize the unrest with the Texas Republican Party as a war, but he did suggest there is long-lived tension between the Texas House and Senate, both of which are Republican-led.

"The war between the House and Senate has been going on long before I became lieutenant governor," he said. "There is just this rivalry between 150 house members and 31 senators. From this impeachment, there are going to be raw nerves for a while, I'm sure. I've moved on. I have to work with (House Speaker Dade Phelan), no matter who the speaker is."

He also addressed the reporting of his campaign's acceptance of money from a pro-Paxton political action committee. He said he will keep that money.

"I have another campaign coming in 2026," he said. "It's very expensive to run a statewide campaign. It is $25-30 million or so. You can't wait till the last minute to raise your money. Here's the truth, and I haven't said anything about it because I was under a gag order. I couldn't talk about this $3 million contribution from the PAC. What no one ever reports is that I also received $3 million from the other side by individual donors."

He has already asked for an audit of House expenses related to the impeachment, and he expects there will be legislation in the next session to address the issues he saw with the process. He repeated his sharp criticism of the House and its impeachment process.

"Paxton was proven innocent because the House could not prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt in the minds of the majority of the jurors," Patrick said. "That's the bottom line. And so at the end of the day, the House had a terrible case. They had a weak case. They couldn't prove anything. There was no smoking gun. And though there were some strong witnesses, they all crumbled on cross-examination."

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