Republican Ken Paxton, who was suspended as attorney general of Texas in May following his impeachment by the GOP-controlled state House, is not planning to testify at his Senate trial, his lawyer says.
His lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, said in a statement that Paxton was "impeached by the kangaroo court in the Texas House" and that Paxton will "not dignify the illegal House action by testifying."
"The House has ignored precedent, denied him an opportunity to prepare his defense, and now wants to ambush him on the floor of the Senate," Buzbee said Monday in the statement. "They had the opportunity to have Attorney General Paxton testify during their sham investigation but refused to do so. We will not bow to their evil, illegal, and unprecedented weaponization of state power in the Senate chamber."
Buzbee called the articles of impeachment against Paxton "meritless and absurd."
"This is about silencing conservatives, eliminating an effective political opponent, and overturning an election," he said.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and state Rep. Andrew Murr, who chairs the House committee that investigated Paxton, did not immediately respond to NBC News’ requests for comment.
State Sen. Angela Paxton, who is chair of the GOP caucus in the Texas Senate and married to Ken Paxton, will not be allowed to vote in the impeachment trial of her husband.
The GOP-controlled Texas House impeached Paxton on charges of breaking the law, abusing his office, accepting bribes and obstructing justice. Sixty of the House’s 85 Republicans, including Phelan, voted to impeach Paxton.
Paxton has been under FBI investigation for years over accusations that he used his office to help a donor and was separately indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, though he has yet to stand trial.
The impeachment trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 5. Each side will be allotted 24 hours to present evidence, and opening statements and closing arguments will be allocated 60 minutes each.
If two-thirds of the state Senate votes to convict Paxton on even one of the charges, he will be removed permanently.
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, a Republican, appointed former Secretary of State John Scott to temporarily serve as attorney general at the end of May following Paxton's impeachment.
CORRECTION (July 6, 9:48 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the position of Texas state Sen. Paul Bettencourt. He is a former chair of the Senate Republican caucus, not the current majority leader.