Patrick breaks silence after Paxton acquittal, calls for constitutional amendment on impeachment changes

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Photo credit Jay Janner/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

AUSTIN ( -- Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick broke his silence after senators voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton on impeachment charges facing him, calling for changes to the process including a constitutional amendment.

"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," Patrick said in comments from the bench after the court's business was concluded.

“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," Patrick said. "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."

Patrick called for a constitutional amendment to change the state's impeachment process, calling the process "flawed" as currently written. "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," Patrick said.

“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."

Patrick is also calling for a change to the process where an impeached official is immediately suspended from office. “When the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, the official in question should not be put on unpaid leave through the process," Patrick said. "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."

Patrick also said he will call for an audit of taxpayer dollars spent on the impeachment effort. “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," Patrick said. “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," Patrick said.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jay Janner/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK